After I finished watching about 8,000 episodes of excellent television on Netflix, I decided that I ought to read something. I went to the shelf and devoured two memoirs I’ve been aiming to get to for months.
1. Townie, by Andre Dubus III. In the anthology I use for my creative nonfiction class, there’s a little essay in there by Mr. Dubus III, called, I think, “Tracks and Ties.” It’s a brutal essay, about fighting and beer and railroad tracks in a Massachusetts mill town. In my head, it’s all noses wiped on coat sleeves and blood and the sound of rail cars smashing into each other. This book, while a little too long, especially in the meaning-making end, is so alive. Here’s what it is, in my head: blood, rust, Budweiser, right hooks, and, of course, fathers’ graying beards. It’s a lovely book, about fathers, mostly, and I’m starting to think that most of the memoirs I love from men are, for better or for worse, about fathers.
2. The Tender Bar, by JR Moehringer. This one was a long time coming. This book is shot through with fathers, the absence of real ones, the presence of substitute ones. A lovely book–though somehow I suspect Mr. Moehringer was a little more Yale’d-up than he’s admitting–that’s all about a place. You come to know this bar, and its people, and I’m surprised he hasn’t written a novel. It’s loaded with brown boozes and campus bells and paperbacks with the covers torn off. So much yearning here.
They’re my thing, memoirs. Good ones, and I’m sad there are so many overly done bad ones. When they’re right, you come away from them feeling a little more whole.