The Reading List: Family memoirs
Monday 25 July 2011
'My Father's Fortune' by Michael Frayn, Faber & Faber, £15.99
Winner of last week's PEN prize, Michael Frayn's atmospheric memoir traces his family lineage, from his grandparents through to his father, a builders' commercial traveller and perennial odd one out. Rich in domestic detail, the work is beautifully crafted and elegantly written.
'I Slept with Joey Ramone' by Legs McNeil and Mickey Leigh, Touchstone, £11.99
Joey Ramone co-founded The Ramones, offering one of the defining sounds of 1970s New York. Here, his brother, Mickey Leigh, documents the rock star's evolution: from the suburban child with low self-esteem and possible obsessive compulsive disorder, to the Greenwich Village hipster and musical pioneer. A vibrant musical memoir.
'Dreams from My Father (A Story of Race and Inheritance)' by Barack Obama, Canongate, £8.99
The US President's memoirs deal not only with his own childhood but also with his parents' story. After receiving a phone call informing him of his father's death, Obama journeys to Africa to uncover the tale that made his dad the man he was. Concluding just as the future president enrolled at Harvard Law School, Dreams from My Father has become a must-read for anyone with an interest in politics.
'Bad Blood: A Memoir' by Lorna Sage, Fourth Estate, £8.99
Harrowing and hopeful, Welsh literary critic Lorna Sage's book recounts her difficult childhood being brought up by a submissive mother and her tyrannical grandparents. Throughout, her grandfather, a womanising, hard-drinking cleric, looms large.
'Madame Curie: A Biography' by Eve Curie, Da Capo Press, £14.99
Eve Curie chronicles the achievements of her mother, Marie Curie, the pioneering scientist renowned for her research on radioactivity. Beginning with her childhood in Poland, it recounts her marriage to Pierre Curie, her winning of two Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry and the tragic irony of her death from aplastic anaemia.
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