The Most Famous Author Who Ever Lived: A True Story of My Family

Tom Shroder. Blue Rider, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-399-17459-9
The urge to investigate one’s origins is on powerful display in Shroder’s (Acid Test) exploration of his famous grandfather, Pulitzer Prize–winning author MacKinlay “Mack” Kantor. Mack was born in Iowa in 1904 and grew up in poverty, and he decided early on to become a writer. He is perhaps best known today for Andersonville, his bestselling, epic 1955 novel about the notorious Civil War prison, and for writing the novel on which the Academy Award–winning 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives is based. Despite his successes however, Mack’s popularity had waned by the 1970s, with his decline marked by alcoholism, diminished income, and a shift to far-right politics. Shroder draws on family letters, photos, and stories; his own memory; and Mack’s papers at the Library of Congress, in the process realizing how little he really knew his complicated grandfather. He also learns the stories of Mack’s hardworking, smart, and loving mother, and his charming, large-living, manipulative con man of a father. The book is more than a biographical excavation; it’s a journey of understanding. Shroder’s visceral reactions and moving discoveries as he comes to terms with his grandfather’s life make for a trip well worth taking. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 10/04/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-0628-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-5628-0
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