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This Week

My Father Before Me: A Memoir by Chris Forhan

An award-winning poet offers a multi-generational portrait of an American family—weaving together the lives of his ancestors, his parents, and his own coming of age in the 60s and 70s in the wake of his father’s suicide, in this superbly written, “fiercely honest” (Nick Flynn) memoir.

The fifth of eight children, Chris Forhan was born into a family of silence. He and his siblings learned, without being told, that certain thoughts and feelings were not to be shared. On the evenings his father didn’t come home, the rest of the family would eat dinner without him, his whereabouts unknown, his absence pronounced but not mentioned. And on a cold night in 1973, just before Christmas, Forhan’s father killed himself in the carport.

Forty years later, Forhan “bravely considers the way he is and is not his father’s son” (Larry Watson), digging into his family’s past and finding within each generation the same abandonment, loss, and silence in which he was raised. Like Ian Frazier in Family or Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes, Forhan shows his family members as both a part and a product of their time. My Father Before Me is a family history, an investigation into a death, and a stirring portrait of growing up in an Irish Catholic childhood, all set against a backdrop of America from the Great Depression to the Ramones.

Marrying the literary scope of memoirists Geoffrey Wolff and J.R. Moehringer with the intensity of family novels like The Corrections and We Are Not Ourselves, My Father Before Me is the kind of epic, immersive memoir that comes along once in a decade.

Next Week

The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler's Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Hunting Eichmann and The Perfect Mile, an epic adventure and spy story about the greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.
 
It’s 1942 and the Nazis are racing to be the first to build a weapon unlike any known before. They have the physicists, they have the uranium, and now all their plans depend on amassing a single ingredient: heavy water, which is produced in Norway’s Vemork, the lone plant in all the world that makes this rare substance. Under threat of death, Vemork’s engineers push production into overdrive.
 
For the Allies, the plant must be destroyed. But how would they reach the castle fortress set on a precipitous gorge in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth?
 
Based on a trove of top secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is an arresting chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skies, perilous survival in the wild, sacrifice for one’s country, Gestapo manhunts, soul-crushing setbacks, and a last-minute operation that would end any chance Hitler could obtain the atomic bomb—and alter the course of the war.
 


Author Extra

This Week's Guest:

Chris Forhan

Award-winning poet, Chris Forhan, offers a multi-generational portrait of an American family—weaving together the lives of his ancestors, his parents, and his own coming of age in the 60s and 70s in the wake of his father’s suicide.  Forhan joins Well Read to discuss his epic and heartbreaking memoir – My Father Before Me.

Air Date:

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World Channel:  Fri 6am/1pm EST and Sun 11:30am EST

Bookmarks by Mary Ann Gwinn

The Richness of Russo Someone once said that in a novel, a small town is a perfect stage for a group of players. Here are some of Russo’s books where a small town, usually in New York or New England, has served as a place where people know each other all too well. get the full list >

Elsewhere
Richard Russo
Empire Falls
Richard Russo
Nobody's Fool
Richard Russo
Mohawk
Richard Russo

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