Friday, June 19, 2015

Blog Tour: Every Father's Daughter @margaretmcmulla @prbythebook

Every Father's Daughter: Twenty-four Women Writers Remember Their FathersTitle: Every Father's Daughter
Release Date:  April 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover, Paperback & ebook
Publisher: McPherson & Company
Source: complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review.


“What is it about the relationship between fathers and daughters that provokes so much exquisite tenderness, satisfying communion, longing for more, idealization from both ends, followed often if not inevitably by disappointment, hurt, and the need to understand and forgive, or to finger the guilt of not understanding and loving enough?” writes Phillip Lopate, in his introduction to Every Father's Daughter, a collection of 25 personal essays by women writers writing about their fathers. The editor, Margaret McMullan, is herself a distinguished novelist and educator. About half of these essays were written by invitation for this anthology; others were selected by Ms. McMullan and her associate, Philip Lopate, who provides an introduction. The contributors include many well-known writers—Alice Munro, Jayne Anne Phillips, Alexandra Styron, Ann Hood, Bobbie Ann Mason, Maxine Hong Kingston, among others—as well as writers less well-known but no less cogent, inventive, perceptive, lacerating, questioning, or loving of their fathers.

Q & A with Margaret McMullan

 1. How did you decide which authors to reach out to for this collection?
In the last month of my father’s life, I read to him Alice Munro’s essay, “Working for a Living.” We had one of our last book discussions about that fox farm, the cold work, and the landscape of Canada. She was the first person I contacted. I wrote her a letter and a few months later she called and said yes, of course you can reprint my essay. I was just stunned. The other authors followed. I invited the authors my father loved or had met at some point in his life. He had dinner with Lee Smith once and she was so quick to respond. Lee led me to Jill McCorkle. I also included three former students. In the end, this collection of women writers became one big circle of friends.

2. How did your vision for this collection evolve from the start to end of this project?  
At first I saw this as a collection of southern writers, men and women. But then I realized I just wanted to hear from women, daughters. I moved away from regionalizing it when I began thinking of my father’s literary tastes and what kind of man he was. He was southern but he was also very much shaped by Chicago and the Mid-West.
Each time I read an essay, I would think, Would Dad like this?

3. What most surprised you about the creation of Every Father's Daughter? 
I was surprised how difficult such a great collection was to get published. Jane Smiley had a Pulitzer, Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Award, and Alice Munro had just won a Nobel Prize. I felt this book was no-proof. Who wouldn’t want to read these writers on this particularly personal subject? And who wouldn’t want to read about fathers? I’ve always thought this collection was a sure thing, but it was much more difficult to find a publisher than I had imagined. Apparently, anthologies were no longer fashionable in the publishing industry. 

4. In your introduction, you talk about how this book was a way for you to grieve. How did you come to realize this?
This particular work felt meaningful because all along I thought so much about my father.  I started soon after my father died. The work – reaching out to other women, asking for their stories and then reading them was therapeutic because it reminded me that there are other emotions besides grief. After a while, after I organized and put together the book, after I wrote my own essay, my grief transformed. It felt less like sadness and more like love.
I have encountered so many readers who have read the book and want to talk about an essay, and then, inevitably, these readers begin to tell me about their fathers. A conversation starts. This book has a power. We are remembering our fathers, and, in some cases, bringing them back to life.
5. Did you come to realize anything about your relationship with your father as you read through the essays in this collection?
I knew from the start that we were close, and that a good part of that closeness was how we stayed connected through literature. Now, I realize exactly how close we really were.
This book is about the fathers. The first man a woman loves, the first man who breaks your heart and an undeniable part of who we are. Whether you have a good or a bad relationship with your father, or no relationship at all this collection of essays will transport you to your childhood, teenage years or present day and will shake feelings and emotions we all had or still have.
Every Father’s Daughter is a collection of more than twenty women telling about their fathers. Each story is unique, beautiful, heartbreaking, happy or sad and will touch you on their own way. It will be easy for you to relate with one or more of the stories.
The editor did a wonderful job introducing each one of the stories and her own story told at the beginning of the book not only gives meaning and purpose to the book but also it's a wonderful piece about how much she loves her father.
The writing quality is excellent, each woman has her own voice and you can feel the power emanating from the words. It’s not easy to rate or review when people are telling their personal experiences, when they are exposed and vulnerable and their lives are out at our disposal. However, these women as most women in the world are not afraid to share this with the readers.
Whether your father is a constant loving figure in your life or a stranger passing by, fathers shape who we are and you can see this in each story. And as only real life can offer we have a magical mix of scenarios and outcomes, from loving fathers to the ones who let alcohol or work ruin their lives, victims of abuse, immigrants, war veterans and more.
I could say a lot more about this collection but I think you should discover it by yourself.
If memories and real stories are something you enjoy, Every Father’s Daughter might be the book for you.

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