Review: Sentimental ‘Memories of My Father’ presents disjointed portrait of self
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“I used to have this fantasy that I would wake up in some other country, and someone would put their arms around me,” writes the author, a man who was born in Paris. “I’ve had that since my childhood…. The only real escape is to be myself, which is dangerous, because I am always a danger to myself.”
The author, who was identified only as “a man,” is a real name, and he is French, and the book, which seems to be the work of a man who is not French, is a memoir titled “Memories of My Father.” At first blush, it may seem like something a novelist might have conceived; a novel, no less than a novelist. But this is not just a novel, this is a novel of a man. His name, we are told, is Paul Desgrenier. His father was a “sociological doctor,” and he lived for years in San Francisco. He spent his time at a hospital helping patients whose loved ones were dying. He was a “pianist” who played music at funerals. He was a “sociologist” who studied the “invisible bond” between people. He was in his early twenties when he first saw a young girl who was dying of cancer.
The man had a wife and a small child, but he was lonely. He visited her hospital bedside many times, and he spent many hours looking at her. He took pictures of her. He wrote her his most beautiful love poem. He was, at least until he was 35, the proud father of a son. He wrote her a letter in which he tried to explain how he felt. He called her “my darling.” He gave her a bracelet