Shadow of a Former Self

           The only sure knowledge remaining is that her father is a dead man. And death, it seems, makes one possessive. Vigilant. Determined to do some kind of justice, however meager, on behalf of one's ghosts. The father Gordon once recognized has disappeared; however fast she runs toward him, his specter seems--under the weight of the historical record--to have vanished. "I'm no longer sure that the most desirable thing is to be with my father for all eternity," she writes. His eternity is elsewhere, in the shadows, hounded by a brutal father the author makes the mistake of roiling up in fiction. And so father and daughter part ways, at least among the living.

           Among the dead, there is another story, told here in part. In what Gordon describes as her final act of reparation and forgiveness, she has her father's body disinterred from his in-law's grave, a Jew laid out among Catholics who had at best tolerated or patronized him, at worst despised him. She arranges, in the wake of her search, to give his remains "a local habitation and a name" under different earth, in a new plot that she too, after death, will inhabit. It is a place earned, she believes, not only by her writing--an inheritance from her father, her ancestor--but by a kind of lunacy, an unseemly love "that doesn't fear being called grotesque." A love that abides, despite lies and despair, into eternity.

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