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February 27, 2010

Making Toast

A Family Story
Roger Rosenblatt - ISBN - 9780061825934

The author is an historic favorite of many of my generation, having regularly appeared on the McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, with beautiful, thoughtful essays on varietal subjects. He was also an essayist and editor of Time Magazine, as well having published several books, amongst them Rules for Aging, an interesting little book.

This is a memoir of incredible sensitivity and poignancy. His 38 year old daughter died several years ago, leaving behind a husband and three young children. Roger and his wife immediately moved in to assist, as grandparents and surrogate parents, to relieve their son-in-law, Harris--a busy hand surgeon at the peak of his demanding career.

With his usual sensitive touch, wry wit and self-deprecating air, Rosenblatt describes the family's "impossible" loss, the tribulations, the grief, and his and his wife's efforts to balance the scales. His modest claim is to be able to "make toast" each morning, precisely to the specifications of each of the individuals in the household. Hence the title.

It is one of the most profound memoirs you will read, right up there with Tuesdays with Morrie, and Have a Little Faith, and every bit as personal. He describes, in myriad reflections and incidental anecdotes, the quiet and largely unstated rage and bitterness, the familial love and sacrifices, the support for the children and each other, and the daily family interactions from study and play times to outings and conversations. Almost every page includes an insight, sometimes profound, and I defy anyone to read this brief memoir without tearing up. It is simple--almost lyrical--and elegant; a testimonial of love and friendship, reinforced by family values of an old fashioned kind.

It is, in part, a diary of events as interpreted by the family and their friends; as well a story of tenderness and patience, a tribute to survival, and at the same time a heartbreakingly beautiful eulogy to a beloved daughter.

Posted by Curmudgeon at February 27, 2010 1:33 PM