My Father Before Me: A Memoir

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 28, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 310 pages
A Library Journal Best Memoir of 2016

An award-winning poet offers a multi-generational portrait of an American family—weaving together the lives of his ancestors, his parents, and his own coming of age in the 60s and 70s in the wake of his father’s suicide, in this superbly written, “fiercely honest” (Nick Flynn) memoir.

The fifth of eight children, Chris Forhan was born into a family of silence. He and his siblings learned, without being told, that certain thoughts and feelings were not to be shared. On the evenings his father didn’t come home, the rest of the family would eat dinner without him, his whereabouts unknown, his absence pronounced but not mentioned. And on a cold night in 1973, just before Christmas, Forhan’s father killed himself in the carport.

Forty years later, Forhan “bravely considers the way he is and is not his father’s son” (Larry Watson), digging into his family’s past and finding within each generation the same abandonment, loss, and silence in which he was raised. Like Ian Frazier in Family or Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes, Forhan shows his family members as both a part and a product of their time. My Father Before Me is a family history, an investigation into a death, and a stirring portrait of growing up in an Irish Catholic childhood, all set against a backdrop of America from the Great Depression to the Ramones.

Marrying the literary scope of memoirists Geoffrey Wolff and J.R. Moehringer with the intensity of family novels like The Corrections and We Are Not Ourselves, My Father Before Me is the kind of epic, immersive memoir that comes along once in a decade.
 

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My Father Before Me

User Review  - Book Verdict

When poet and professor (English, Butler Univ.) Forhan was 14, and just before Christmas, his father, Ed, killed himself. Long a mysterious, absent presence in the lives of Forhan and his seven ... Read full review

MY FATHER BEFORE ME: A Memoir

User Review  - Kirkus

An award-winning poet revisits the suicide of his father. Forhan (English/Butler Univ.; Ransack and Dance, 2013, etc.) was 14 when his middle-age father, Ed, the head of finance for Alaska Lumber and ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
8
Section 2
12
Section 3
20
Section 4
32
Section 5
40
Section 6
46
Section 7
50
Section 8
54
Section 12
112
Section 13
116
Section 14
126
Section 15
130
Section 16
144
Section 17
148
Section 18
152
Section 19
178

Section 9
62
Section 10
84
Section 11
106
Section 20
274
Section 21
288
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About the author (2016)

Chris Forhan is the author of the memoir, My Father Before Me, as well as poetry collections Forgive Us Our Happiness, winner of the Bakeless Prize; The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars, winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize; and Black Leapt In, chosen by poet Phillis Levin for the Barrow Street Press Book Prize. He was raised in Seattle and earned an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA from the University of Virginia. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two Pushcart prizes. His poetry has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2008 and has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, New England Review, Parnassus, and other magazines. He teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and two children.

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