On today's show, we celebrate Father's Day, a bit early, by talking fathers -- and daughters and sons and husbands and wives and our own multiple identities -- with Beth Kephart, author of the new memoir Wife/Daughter/Self, from Portland’s own Forest Avenue Press. In the book, Beth writes of herself from the perspective of her role as a wife, married to the same man going on 34 years now; a daughter, with stories of her own father who spent his last days in a retirement community; and her own identity as a writer, especially of memoir.
Given the relationship to my own father, I found common ground in Beth’s description of her father, his move to a retirement village, his near-fatal fall and recovery, and how much she sees herself in him. She writes of her great love for her father, but also of the anxiety and insomnia she suffers from watching his decline. I appreciated, and found comfort, in her candor. The child becomes father to the man, and those of us of a certain age can feel the squeeze of taking care of, and worrying about, our aging parents and our grown children.
I’m not alone in loving Beth’s book. In the words of one of her mentors, the poet Carolyn Forché, Wife/Daughter/Self “passes the whole of a life through the prism of intimate relations and the result is revelatory: a memoir that assembles itself as we read, until all its parts are shimmering with meaning and that most sought, most elusive treasure is revealed: what it means to be human, and aware.”
Beth, by the way, is an award-winning author of more than 30 books of fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages, and a masterful teacher of creative non-fiction and fiction, and, of course, memoir. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
It's another beautiful day in the neighborhood!