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Roxanne Reviews "In the Early Times: A Life Reframed"

by Tad Friend

A "sins of the father" type memoir by the New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend is a stunning portrayal of fatherhood and the difficult process of seeing our parents age. I started writing out quotes I found miraculous upon first starting the book and then gave up because every page is prosaically jaw dropping.

Suffice to say, Tad details his family history, woven with his own marriage and child rearing, and his desire to be close to his parents as they aged. Poignant is too dull a word to describe the emotional vibrancy of Friend’s writing, so I’ll quote one of his prime pieces of wisdom.

“When Day (Friend’s father) began to fail, it felt like he was tugging me with him. My sense that we’re tethered on a conveyor belt had given rise to two absurd and contradictory beliefs. One is that when he goes over the edge, I’ll be pulled over, too. The other is that if I can dig my heels in, somehow, I can stop the belt.”

The memoir is a firming up of Friend’s own culpability in life, which is far fairer and evolutionary than the cliché ‘blame it on my parents’ routine.

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