Romany and Tom: A Memoir

Ben Watt. Bloomsbury, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-1-62040-372-3
In this unsentimental but moving memoir, noted musician, deejay, and author Watt details his parents’ tumultuous marriage and painful decline into senility and death. His father, Tom, was a renowned jazz bandleader whose career disintegrated with the ascendance of rock music, while Romany, his mother, was a Shakespearean actress who became a showbiz writer and columnist. With Romany’s star rising as Tom’s fell, the tensions between them increased, a strife further fueled by shared alcoholism and family histories of depression (which burdens Watt as well). Their son attempts to smooth their paths into old age, including moving them to a new apartment and shuttling them to hospitals and managed care. Watt creates a kaleidoscopic impression of his parents’ lives, flashing back to various eras in their relationship as he chronologically unwinds the course of their inevitable physical and mental collapse. In fluid, highly detailed prose he recreates scenes and places with an effortless immediacy. To good effect, Watt also draws upon the mementos and letters his mother kept, fragments that help him piece together the emotional landscape of a long struggle against the backdrop of post-WWII England. In the end, Watt casts an illuminating light on those strange figures he calls parents, and on ours. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 06/10/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-4088-4510-3
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-4088-4527-1
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4088-4526-4
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