Finding My Father by Deborah Tannen

A #1 New York Times bestselling author traces her father’s existence from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to New York City in an intimate memoir about own family, memory, and the stories we tell. Long before she changed into the acclaimed author of a groundbreaking book approximately ladies and men, praised by way of Oliver Sacks for having “a novelist’s ear for the way humans speak,” Deborah Tannen became a woman who loved her father. Though he became often absent all through her childhood, she was profoundly influenced by using his gift for writing and storytelling. As she grew up and he grew older, she spent infinite hours recording conversations together with her father for the account of his existence she had promised him she’d write. But while he fingers Tannen journals he kept in his youth, and she or he discovers letters he stored from a woman he would possibly have married rather than her mom, she is forced to reconsider her assumptions approximately her father’s life and her parents’ marriage. In this memoir, Tannen embarks on the poignant, yet perilous, quest to piece collectively the puzzle of her father’s lifestyles. Beginning along with his astonishingly vivid recollections of the Hasidic network in Warsaw, wherein he changed into born in 1908, she strains his journey: from arriving in New York City in 1920 to quitting high school at fourteen to support his mother and sister, via a great array of jobs, including jail shield and gun-toting alcohol tax inspector, to sooner or later establishing the largest workers’ compensation law practice in New York and running for Congress. As Tannen comes to higher recognize her father's—and her own—courting to Judaism, she uncovers components of his life she would by no means have imagined. Finding My Father is a memoir of Eli Tannen’s life and the ways wherein it reflects the near century that he lived. Even extra than that, it’s an unflinching account of a daughter’s conflict to look her father clearly, to understand him greater deeply, and to find a extra truthful story about her family and herself.

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Heading Out Review

Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, is an expert on how we use words to both reveal and hide ourselves from the folks who imply the most to us. Her work grows from a love of phrases that came from her father, Eli Tannen. While her mom, Dorothy, changed into tough and regularly manipulative, Tannen’s father become witty, intellectual and loving. Yet despite (or perhaps due to the fact of) their close relationship, there had been irritating gaps in his story, which Tannen wanted to fill. Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey From World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow is her account of now not only his tremendous life however also her search for the reality at the back of his circle of relatives, his work and his marriage.

Eli’s finest pleasure became determined in words. Raised in a Hasidic own family in Warsaw, Poland, he arrived in America in 1920 on the age of 12 with very little English. Within three years, he turned into fluent and had end up a voracious reader. Upon his loss of life at the age of 97, he bequeathed his daughter a tsunami of letters, journals, poems, interviews and home made cards, all filled together with his phrases. With all this source material, one might be forgiven for thinking that all Dr. Tannen needed to do become transcribe it and set up it in chronological order. However, instead of a neat road map, these relics have been like portions from special puzzles. Tannen had to examine and organize them with the intention to create that means out of them.

As a result, Finding My Father is a beautifully constructed patchwork that Tannen has pieced collectively from her father’s words. A sample emerges that reveals no longer one Eli but several often contradictory Elis: Eli the son, Eli the lover, Eli the husband, Eli the father, Eli the activist, Eli the friend. Somehow, all of these Elis add up to the singular and extraordinary Eli Tannen. Finding this Eli allows Tannen to see herself, her family and maximum in particular her mother in a new and conciliatory light. Memory doesn’t only reconstruct the past, Tannen reminds us; it may also forge a new present.

 

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