cover image Don’t Cry for Me

Don’t Cry for Me

Daniel Black. Hanover Square, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-335-42573-7

Black (The Sacred Place) chronicles a father’s confession of his failures in this heartbreaking narrative. Jacob Swinton writes to his estranged gay son, Isaac, in an effort to, in Jacob’s words, provide a “record of a poor Black father’s appeal... what any dying daddy might say to his son.” Jacob recounts his years growing up in Arkansas, where he bullied a queer classmate, and describes his courtship with his wife, Rachel, and their move to Kansas City, where they had Isaac. He also offers insight on Black history and the power of reading, and writes eloquently about the country versus the city, but the core is about how Jacob treats Isaac—having asked him, for instance, “Do you wanna be a sissy, boy?” at the breakfast table after deriding his son for resisting sports, kissing a doll, and performing in a school play. Jacob’s shame is made palpable in his alternately hurtful and supportive correspondence (“I wonder how to fix you”; “You weren’t the son I wanted”; “Be the kind of man you are, but be a man”), and the wisdom he gains along the way brings him to concluding remarks that are poignant and moving. The painful narrative of regret can feel preachy at times, but it is consistently powerful. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)