Tags: The New Yorker

Sins of the Father: The New Yorker Version

by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Published on: August 5, 2013
Comments: No Comments

Cartoon-seesawIf you dare to add one more object to your juggling act as a writer, pick up the July 22, 2013, issue of The New Yorker. Critic-at-large James Wood offers an in-depth article titled “Sins of the Father” and subtitled “Do great novelists make bad parents?” Here’s a link to the first few paragraphs from the online version.

I’d like to think that Wood’s article doesn’t relate to me. One, I am not a “great novelist” on the level with Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, or John Cheever.  Two, my kids are grown, and when they were little I was not as devoted to my writing as I am now. Three, I am female. Does that make a difference, I wonder?

I suppose the article is one I might comfortably ignore. Still, snippets of the article draw me in. Like this bit:

Can a man or a woman fulfill a sacred devotion to thought, or music, or art, or literature, while fulfilling a proper devotion to spouse or children?

Or this quote from William Styron’s daughter:

He might wander into the kitchen…[b]ut he wasn’t exactly there….In the evening hours, however, his humanity usually made a swim for the surface.

I don’t have to tell you that we writers, whether “great” or not, with children or without, face the balancing act on a daily basis. I don’t have anything profound to add. Wood’s article might hold your interest for a while. Or you might simply zip through the The New Yorker cartoons. My favorite from that issue is of a pajama-ed little girl in bed with her teddy bear. She’s speaking to her father, who sits by her bed, an open book in his hands. The little girl says:

Read it in the hollow, affectless voice of a man with nothing left to lose, Daddy.


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