It was in 1991 that he began to die. He led an active, sometimes hyperactive
life as a General Practitioner and there were no signs, other than
tiredness, of failing health. But in October he made an appointment at the
hospital. In November, an inoperable cancer was found. And by mid-December
he was dead. He was seventy-five, an unsurprising age for a man of his
generation to die. But nothing had prepared me. To lose a parent had been my
biggest childhood dread, and though forty years old, with a wife, a job and
children of my own, in terms of emotional maturity I was still a child.
From time to time (particularly times of upset) I've kept a diary and in the
three weeks between diagnosis and death -- as I shuttled by train between
London and Yorkshire, or lay unsleeping in the spare bedroom of my parents'
home -- keeping a diary kept me going. But after the funeral, and the cold
hearth of Christmas, I sank into depression. The only solace came from
memories of childhood featuring my father in good health. I began typing
them into my computer.
I didn't tell anyone what I was up to. It was done blind, from a black
hole without an eye for publication. But at some point I must have let on to
Bill Buford, then editor of Granta, who read and printed the extract in his
magazine and offered to publish it.
Around the time of publication, terrible things happened to my mother, my
sister Gill and Auntie Beaty, my father's close friend. My sister's
eyesight, already poor, suffered a deterioration. Then, Beaty's infant
grandson was found to have cancer and seemed likely o die. And one night, my
mother fell asleep in front of the television, stood up too quickly and
fell, breaking her arm. She had to be pinned in several places and left her
in a lot pain.
I felt guilty. I had written a book about my father and now those closest
to him were falling apart. I found myself feeling paranoid. The book was
praised for its honesty. By the time of the paperback, the sense of crisis
had passed. Beaty's grandson was cured. Gill's eyesight stabilized. And the
pins were removed from my mother's arm. So, it wasn't the book that had done
the damage. As she saw it, the book might have saved her as she insisted
that she should have been reading my book rather than watching television. I
reproached myself for superstition and paranoia. But I never quite got over
What did my mother really think of the book ? My mother, always a
chameleon, felt ambivalent. She told some people one thing and other people
another, felt one thing one day, something else the next. She would probably
have preferred the book not exist; in allowing it, she may well have been
indulging her only son. But she was pleased when friends told her they liked
it. Once the book was published, letters began to arrive. There were letters
from family and from writers I knew, but above all, there were letters from
strangers. Most were people who had lost someone close to them. They read my
story of bereavement and wanted to reciprocate with theirs. and I realized
how many of my father's idiosyncrasies -- jumping queues and tinkering with
cars -- were not idiosyncrasies at all. One reader even sent me flowers.
Some even told me in their letters that the thoughts written in my books
"were my thoughts, from the darkest corners of my life."
Friendships resumed as well. People who had never invited me to their
parties invited me to their parties. I had taken up writing to escape my
father's influence. But the only half decent thing I had written -- the only
occasion for admiring letters -- was a book about him.
Based on the passage given, write
a summary about
* how the narrator dealt with his
* the response the book generated
Credit will be given for use of
own words but care must be taken not to change the original meaning. Your
summary must be in continuous form and not longer than 130 words,
including the 10 words given below.
Begin your summary as follows :
"The narrator's dad died of
cancer plunging him into depression. ..."