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TATO de William Wharton
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TATO (original: 1981; edição: 1995)

de William Wharton

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212295,701 (4.08)3
John Tremont, a middle-aged man with a family, is summoned to his mother's bedside after she has suffered a heart attack. When he arrives, he finds her shaken but surviving; it is his father, left alone, who is unable to cope, who begins to fail, to slip away from life. Joined by his nineteen-year-old son, John suddenly becomes enmeshed in the frightening, consuming, endless minutiae of caring for a beloved, dying parent. He also finds himself inescapably confronting his own middle age, jammed between his son's feckless impatience to get on with his life and his father's heartbreaking willingness to let go. A story of the love that binds generations, Dad celebrates the universe of possibilities within every individual life.… (mais)
Membro:Andrzej1940
Título:TATO
Autores:William Wharton
Informação:Zyskis-Ka (1995), Paperback
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:RED1/05

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Dad de William Wharton (1981)

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This might be the best book I read all summer. It is a great story around ageing, growing up and generations, and it is full of humanity and tenderness. It is a story about death, a 'road movie', a set of rather enjoyable encounters.
I found the mother character a bit unbelievable, though, as well as some of the digs at the medical system - but then I come from another world so perhaps there are people like this.
It is a touching and dreemy book about a very tough subject, old age, decay and death ( )
  iphigenie | Sep 12, 2008 |
I classify Dad by William Wharton (Alfred A. Knopf, 1981) among my books that deal with generations — and, indeed, it is a powerful, realistic portrait of an aging grandfather, his dutiful son, and a grandson, who is a college dropout. The protagonist is John Tremont, who has left his own family in Paris to return to California to care for his aging parents during critical illnesses — heart attacks, cancer, comatose periods. His own son is his companion and support in this task, but as a college dropout also a worrisome concern. All right, this sounds like the classic story of three generations, right? And, in fact, it is so specific in its details and candid in its presentation of the protagonist’s feelings, that it reads almost like a case history. Critics have generally assumed that it is autobiographical, reflecting life experiences of the author, for whom William Wharton is a pen name. Page after page of forthright realism leave one feeling almost burdened with responsibility, as Tremont is. It is also a sensitive, but frank, portrayal of financial exigencies, sexual tensions, and generational conflict in the late twentieth century, especially of aging, of death and dying. When I first read the book, I was the father of young children. The concerns of the text seemed distant and dramatic to me. However, I knew that it was a credible and important novel — and a very readable novel.

But, looking back on it after a quarter of a century, what I remember as most affecting me was another motif altogether. During all those years, I have remembered it as a story of multiple identities, of a man’s inner life, hidden not only from the general public but even from his family. Scanning the book now, I realize that story took up only a few pages, as a part of the elderly man’s brief recovery between one critical, apparently terminal, illness and a later one — a sign of the psychic betrayal of old age. The elderly Tremont’s alternate reality does not surface until two-thirds of the way through the book. He reveals it to his son, tentatively but candidly, in half a dozen pages. Most of the rest of the novel deals with his family’s encounters with a psychiatrist. The elderly Tremont has reverted to youth, to a happy, unconventional lifestyle, and to an open confrontation of his alternative lives. Then as he sinks into his terminal withdrawal, we are permitted to experience his alternative life with him — for seven italicized pages. He lives an idyllic, pastoral life: just one long, leisurely day. In his alternative life, he has four school-age children (not two middle aged offspring, each with nearly grown children of their own), a wholesome, loving wife (not the virago to whom he’s been married all these years), and a truck patch in Cape May on the East Coast, with a milk cow and chickens (not the industrial job in California from which he finally had retired after years of mindless labor). It is a lovely life. He cannot accept that it is merely a dream. Ultimately, neither can his son.

All of us live several alternative lives. I’m convinced of that. As John Tremont tells his elderly father, “You’re not crazy, Dad. We all do what you’ve been doing. We make up daydreams, and who knows what’s going on in our deepest sleep? Not even the best psychiatrists really know. You’re not crazy, you’ve just been doing what we all do, only better.”

The happy, loving, creative, intelligent, thoughtful man — who could find no place for himself working in a factory in urban California and living with a shrewish wife — has spent much of his conscious life in what his psychiatrist calls “an ongoing, long dream.”

And, indeed, he has done very well for himself. “Your dad’s typical of the people who do this successfully. There are several examples in literature where it’s been converted into a shared event; Jonathan Swift or William Faulkner or, more recently, Tolkien. It takes an extremely intelligent, strong-willed and imaginative person. ¶ Your father’s used all his tremendous capacities on his dream, totally independent of his daily life. Apparently he could find no use for them there. He’s constructed, created, a personal existence more to his liking. His is a private, complete and apparently satisfying world.”

During the few weeks of his uncanny recovery, when he shares his vision with his middle-aged son, he suffers only two sorts of trouble: how to endure the recriminations of his nerve-wracked, scolding wife and how to explain himself to the children in his alternative world. “What on earth can I say to little Hank and Lizbet; I can’t tell them their daddy just made ’em up. That’s terrible.”

Even more important, however, it is during this time that his son — for the first time — sees the father from whom he is descended. “He’s another man all right. Why is it I had to wait so long to know my dad is a man life myself, more like me than anybody I’ve ever met; genetically, self-evident . . . . We have, in our deepest selves, beyond the masks of time and experience, a communal identity.”

All too soon, of course, the healing interlude is over. Once again the family is thrown into coping with hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, Medicare, Valium, coma, incontinence, the messy, heart-breaking details of old age, of illness, of dying. “The next weeks are hellish,” the son admits. Though his ultimate capsule account of the hellishness of aging could lead to uncontrollable despondency, he resists: “I’m thankful for that brief, bright period, something none of us could have expected. I’m glad I was there: I hope I profited from it.” He finds himself freshly thankful that, unlike his father, he has had a life in which his reality has closely resembled his dream. He determines to prepare himself for his own aging: “Still, somehow I’ve got to learn to grow old before I’m too old to learn.” He knows, however, that his own “finger in the dike” mentality will get in his way.

But none of that — the realism, the possible hope and the probable despair — is what I took away from this book when I first read it all those years ago.

It was the alternative life — the Tolkien Middle Earth — we all, in one way or another, create for ourselves.

The son, in one of his conversations with his father’s psychiatrist, dares ask, “I know this sounds off the wall, but what’s the chance Dad’s on some other time continuum or slipped gears somehow and is really experiencing all this?” Of course, the psychiatrist heads him off, but in the end, taking the old man in for his final hospitalization, knowing that he will die, he can’t help saying to himself, “What happens to his other life [now].”

Not his dream world, you understand. Not his fantasy.

His other life. ( )
1 vote bfrank | Dec 28, 2007 |
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John Tremont, a middle-aged man with a family, is summoned to his mother's bedside after she has suffered a heart attack. When he arrives, he finds her shaken but surviving; it is his father, left alone, who is unable to cope, who begins to fail, to slip away from life. Joined by his nineteen-year-old son, John suddenly becomes enmeshed in the frightening, consuming, endless minutiae of caring for a beloved, dying parent. He also finds himself inescapably confronting his own middle age, jammed between his son's feckless impatience to get on with his life and his father's heartbreaking willingness to let go. A story of the love that binds generations, Dad celebrates the universe of possibilities within every individual life.

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