Patremoir Tweet Summary #2: Fatheralong

Fatheralong by John Edgar Wideman (Pantheon, 1994)

This remarkable memoir blends the personal and the political to raise important questions about race, fatherhood, and identity. Wideman asks searching questions about how race shaped and limited his father. He is less successful in examining his relationship with his second son, Jacob, even if the inclusion of his son’s story adds a powerful and poignant element to the book. When he was 16, Jacob was given life imprisonment for stabbing a fellow camper. Even if Fatheralong is not always successful in keeping bitterness and despair at bay, it is a notable descendant of James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son.”

Fatheralong Tweets:

Another form of running away is substituting a white father for the unreachable or unknowable or unacceptable black one.
1 Jan

I’d never learned how to behave when I encountered my father’s hardness.
31 Dec

Maybe the search for fathers is finally only a trope, a ropa-dope trope containing enough rope to hang you up terminally, you black bastard.
30 Dec

The paradigm of race works to create distance between sons and fathers.
29 Dec

The simple truth was I’d never worked very hard, once I became an adult, to understand my father’s life.
28 Dec

One mistake had been treating my father as if a father always required a capital F.
27 Dec

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