Closing Time: A Memoir

Joe Queenan, Author . Viking $26.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-670-02063-8

Humorist and pop culture writer Queenan (Queenan Country ) turns the mirror on himself in this somber and funny memoir about life with father in the projects of Philadelphia. Queenan closes the chapter on his life with a verbally and physically abusive alcoholic father. Queenan’s father was a pugnacious drunk who declaimed passages from great literature and often chatted loudly late at night with God. Early in the memoir, Queenan expresses the searingly honest sentiment that becomes the refrain of the book: “I never forgave my father for the way he treated us.” Queenan spent most of his life trying to get away from this father; he found refuge in the public library, and for at least a year ran off to a seminary with the intention of joining the priesthood. After his father’s death, as he was casting about for some way to put a spin on their relationship, Queenan recalls that acting as a stenographer for his father—who in his drunken rages would reel off letters to the editor about various social injustices—was the moment when the thought of making a living as a writer first entered his head. Unsentimental and brutally honest, Queenan’s memoir captures the pathos of growing up in a difficult family and somehow getting beyond it. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/26/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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