We need Adam West's Batman more than ever
Wow, Goodreads hates me

Fathers and Sons: a look at literary fathers on Fathers Day

It's always interesting to learn about a favorite author and see "the story behind the story."

For example, once one learns about the life of J.R.R. Tolkien, his writings take on a deeper meaning.  Mordor wasn't just a place of imagined evil, it existed on earth and Tolkien - along with millions of other soldiers - lived there for a time.

He seems to have been a wonderful father, putting his formidable writing and artistic skills to work to amuse and entertain his children.  Certainly his son Christopher has shown a fanatical devotion to his father's legacy.

Of course not all writers make good fathers.  The Waugh family, for example, seems to have been a mixed bag.  A year or so ago I happened to read Alexander Waugh's "Fathers and Sons."  It's something rather unique - a family autobiography.  Alexander is the son of Auberon Waugh and grandson of Evelyn, who is one of my favorite authors.  The book provides a fascinating glimpse behind what can only be called a literary dynasty.

Alexander lacks the fame and output of his ancestors, but he writes in the same bitingly witty style.

Though he isn't a published author, I owe a tremendous debt to my father.  He introduced me to Mark Twain, Vladimir Nabokov and lavishly supported my Tolkien reading habit.

More importantly, he taught me how to write a news release, how to edit my own copy and how to take criticism in stride.

That last part is key, and something a lot of my contemporaries can't do.  Too much of today's child-rearing seems to consist of telling kids that what they do is wonderful whether it's good or not.

My father never hesitated to challenge me.  I remember lamenting how a professor marked me down for what I thought was a perfect essay.  Instead of backing me up he read it through again and said:  "It's not as good as you think.  Take another look."

For most of his life he worked as a newspaper copy editor and those guys are ruthless in their work.  You have to have a thick skin to take what they dish out.  My dad gave me that ability and it's been incredibly useful to me.  It is no exaggeration to say that I could not have written what I have without him and the quality of my work would be much lower without his guidance.

I may not amount to much as an author, but I've really enjoyed writing.  It's a great way to pass the time and work through ideas and reflect on life.  I couldn't have done it without my dad, though.

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)