cover image Father and Son: A Lifetime

Father and Son: A Lifetime

Marcos Giralt Torrente, trans. from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. FSG, $23 (176p) ISBN 978-0-374-27771-0

Torrente's tiresome tirade%E2%80%94although it won the Spanish National Book Award, only Wimmer's elegant translation saves the English edition%E2%80%94joins the long line of muddled memoirs of regretful sons groping to find themselves in the reflections of their father's life. Torrente and his artist father find very little common ground in lives filled with bitterness, regret, misplaced hopes, and resentment. In staccato prose, Torrente chronicles in minute detail the days of his life from 1984-2002, and the ways that his father moves in and out of those days like a ghost haunting the backdrop of his life. Through a litany of events in his father's life, we learn that "he had a tendency to gain weight [%E2%80%A6] he smoked for a while [%E2%80%A6] he was humble with the meek and contemptuous with the arrogant [%E2%80%A6] he was impatient and [%E2%80%A6] often committed injustices in speaking to a waiter or concluding a conversation." Unsurprisingly, Torrente grows more introspective and tries to sort out his already bewildering relationship with his father when his father is diagnosed with cancer in 2007: "Is he following my lead or am I following his? Is he setting the pace or am I paving the way for his surrender with my own." In the end, neither inspires much sympathy in this oft-told tale of father-son dysfunction, and Torrente concludes unremarkably, "we matter only as much as we come to believe that we matter." (Sept.)