Bypass: A Memoir

Joseph A. Amato, Author, Lyle Joyce, Foreword by, Leon Rappoport, Foreword by Purdue University Press $10.95 (227p) ISBN 978-1-55753-176-6
In anticipation of a surgical procedure that would cut his chest wide open and stop the flow of blood to his heart, Amato immersed himself in an introspective farewell to his past, ""as if I were lightening myself for a great crossing."" A middle-aged professor of history (Victims and Values: A History and Philosophy of Suffering), he attempted to avoid the surgery in 1988 by adhering to a strict program of diet and exercise until an angiogram detected increased arterial blockage five years later. In reflective prose laden with minutiae, he recounts a trip to his boyhood home in Detroit when he visited his father's grave, but also expresses feelings of regret that ""our hearts had not drawn closer together."" A reunion with a close friend from his teens prompts memories of a shared obsession with golf. Amato also made a pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, where during his college days a spiritual epiphany returned him to the Roman Catholic faith of his working-class Italian-American childhood. In competent prose with occasional lyrical strokes, he vividly recalls the early years of his marriage to his wife, Cathy, when they acted upon a joint commitment to the ideals of the Catholic Worker Movement in the late 1960s and '70s. Although Amato includes many details about his ultimately successful surgery and recuperation, his searching memoir is primarily rumination on life by a man who is keenly aware of his proximity to death. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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