A deeply funny and affecting memoir about a great escape from a childhood of poverty
Joe Queenan's acerbic riffs on movies, sports, books, politics, and many of the least forgivable phenomena of pop culture have made him one of the most popular humorists and commentators of our time. In Closing Time Queenan turns his sights on a more serious and personal topic: his childhood in a Philadelphia housing project in the early 1960s. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Closing Time recounts Queenan's Irish Catholic upbringing in a family dominated by his erratic father, a violent yet oddly charming emotional terrorist whose alcoholism fuels a limitless torrent of self-pity, railing, destruction, and late-night chats with the Lord Himself. With the help of a series of mentors and surrogate fathers, and armed with his own furious love of books and music, Joe begins the long flight away from the dismal confines of his neighborhood--with a brief misbegotten stop at a seminary--and into the wider world. Queenan's unforgettable account of the damage done to children by parents without futures and of the grace children find to move beyond these experiences will appeal to fans of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr, and will take its place as an autobiography in the classic American tradition.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
Humorist and pop culture writer Queenan (Queenan Country) turns the mirror on himself in this somber and funny memoir about life with father in the projects of Philadelphia. Queenan closes the chapter on his life with a verbally and physically abusive alcoholic father. Queenan's father was a pugnacious drunk who declaimed passages from great literature and often chatted loudly late at night with God. Early in the memoir, Queenan expresses the searingly honest sentiment that becomes the refrain of the book: "I never forgave my father for the way he treated us." Queenan spent most of his life trying to get away from this father; he found refuge in the public library, and for at least a year ran off to a seminary with the intention of joining the priesthood. After his father's death, as he was casting about for some way to put a spin on their relationship, Queenan recalls that acting as a stenographer for his father-who in his drunken rages would reel off letters to the editor about various social injustices-was the moment when the thought of making a living as a writer first entered his head. Unsentimental and brutally honest, Queenan's memoir captures the pathos of growing up in a difficult family and somehow getting beyond it. (Apr.)
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April 14, 2009
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