RENOVATIONS: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other

John Marchese, Author RENOVATIONS: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscove $23.95 (239p) ISBN 978-1-57322-174-0

Call it a midlife crisis: Marchese didn't know how to use a hammer when, at 40, he bought a one-and-a-half-story Cape Cod fixer-upper in rural New York to tear it apart and rebuild it. In an attempt also to repair a broken relationship, Marchese (a sophisticated, urban-dwelling freelance journalist) asked his cranky, 73-year-old father (an opinionated, second-generation Italian immigrant and former construction worker) to help him. While several passages detail the intricacies of installing a dormer or erecting scaffolding, the book is far more fun than a standard how-to book. Marchese's humor and self-deprecation, as well as his frank and candid portrayals of his father (who at first laughed out loud when the author donned a tool belt), capture certain essentials about being a father and a son. Marchese mentions his work attire: "It's my latest costume.... I am wearing nearly three hundred dollars' worth of old clothes. For some reason, I can't resist mentioning this to my father." He also portrays the smalltown life he's come to love with sensitive whimsy, introducing readers to Bob the plumber, Miss Mary the bartender, a bully named Lurch and Reiger the Realtor. He even throws a few barbs at TV's home improvement pioneer, Bob Vila, whom the author interviewed for a New York Times assignment. Marchese sprinkles references throughout to other authors who focused on father-son relationships in their writing: Nietzsche, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth and especially John Cheever. Replete with expressive passages, Marchese's tale will please readers of many ages and stations. (May 7)

Forecast:Though due out in May, this title (whose first serial will appear in Book magazine) will easily register on the radar of sons looking for June Father's Day gifts.

Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-57322-931-9
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