A Father's Words: A Novel

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Jan 4, 1990 - Fiction - 192 pages
1 Review
Cy Riemer—fifty-ish, divorced, and father of four—surveys the dispersal of his family with a mixture of anxiety, humor, sadness, and pride. In this wry, moving, and wise novel, Richard Stern offers his masterful portrait of Cy as the quintessential caring yet controlling parent, a relentless seeker of self-knowledge whose search is intensified through conflicts with his brilliant, ne'er-do-well son Jack. The "manipulation of a smart, sane, self-justifying narrator . . . is not the least of Stern's achievements in this delicate fabrication of tough prose and tender adjustment of sentiment."—Geoffrey Wolff, Los Angeles Times

"Richard Stern's novels are robustly intelligent, very funny, and beguilingly humane. He knows as much as anyone writing American prose about family mischief, intellectual shenanigans, love blunders—and about writing American prose."—Philip Roth

"A delectable rhetorical display. . . . "—The New Yorker

"Anyone who has read Richard Stern's previous novels won't need to be told he is an unusually crisp and intelligent writer, with a sharp edge to his wit; and in A Father's Words he runs true to form. Many of the book's pleasures are incidental: jokes, intellectual cadenzas, agile turns of phrase . . . The author's powers of farcical invention climax in a brilliant, bitter episode where . . . the younger man proclaims his final failure . . . Mr. Stern has written an excellent novel."—John Gross, New York Times

"Richard Stern is American letters' unsung comic writer about serious matters . . . [A Father's Words] produced in this reviewer an apostolic desire to convince a wider audience to try Stern, especially the vintage Stern."—Doris Grumbach, Chicago Tribune

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TimBazzett - LibraryThing

Richard Stern, who died in 2013, is said to be one of those sadly neglected "writers' writers." Before this I had only read - and loved - OTHER MEN'S DAUGHTERS, probably his best known and most ... Read full review

A father's words: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Cyrus Riemer publishes a science newsletter out of Chicago while struggling through the early 1980s with morality, changes of fortune, his ex-wife and his lover, and his four grown children. Jack ... Read full review



Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1990)

Richard Gustave Stern was born in New York City on February 25, 1928. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947, a master's degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. After a year teaching at Connecticut College in New London, he started teaching literature and creative writing at the University of Chicago in 1955, where he remained until his retirement in 2001. His first novel, Golk, was published in 1960. His other novels include Europe: Or Up and Down with Schreiber and Baggish, Stitch, Natural Shocks, Other Men's Daughters, and A Father's Words. An early story, The Sorrows of Captain Schreiber, won an O. Henry award as one of the best short stories of 1954. His short story collections include Packages, Noble Rot, and Almonds to Zhoof. He also wrote a collection of essays entitled The Books in Fred Hampton's Apartment and a memoir about his older sister entitled A Sistermony. In 1985, he received the Medal of Merit for the Novel, awarded every six years by the Academy of Arts and Letters. He died of cancer on January 24, 2013 at the 84.

Bibliographic information