The Last Marlin: A Father-Son Story

Fred Waitzkin, Author Viking Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-88261-8
Near the end of this intricate family history, Waitzkin (Searching for Bobby Fischer) sits with his aged mother in a restaurant enjoying a rendition of Horace Silver's ""Song for My Father."" It's a salient scene considering that the book is largely an homage to Waitzkin's dad, a commercial lighting salesman, and that music was one of the sole points of common ground that the author shared with his aesthete mother. Abe Waitzkin is portrayed as a spindly, ailing man who nonetheless possesses an extraordinary talent for sales, a talent he brings to one of the country's most powerful lighting manufacturers when he marries the owner's daughter, Stella. An aspiring abstract artist, Stella has no enthusiasm for Abe's skills or clients, preferring more bohemian ideals and the company of such peers as Willem de Kooning. There is no doubt as to where the author stands in regard to this tense family divide; even as a boy, Waitzkin is titillated by his father's elan and considerable business connections. In fact, the book is really more about landing big deals than it is about sport fishing. Waitzkin describes his father as brilliant but ruthless. The latter may explain why we read so much about Abe muscling through monumental deals without ever hearing of the machinations behind them, details that might interest those less inclined to be awestruck by fluorescent lighting contracts. Though there are hints of betrayal and revenge, the book's climactic business tension ends predictably. As Waitzkin ponders the eulogy for his father's funeral, he writes, ""It seemed as though no one, even the salesmen attending, would understand why I idealized his selling""; readers may appreciate Waitzkin's clear, resonant writing, but they will likely find themselves too often wondering the same thing. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-0-14-100188-3
Ebook - 158 pages - 978-0-7867-5486-1
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-7867-5485-4
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