And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Near the end of the haunting memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? about his father’s death from cancer, Blake Morrison writes, ”I want to warn people: don’t underestimate filial grief…. I used to think the world divided between those who have children and those who don’t; now I think it divides between those who’ve lost a parent and those whose parents are still alive.” Arthur Morrison, a doctor, dies just weeks after diagnosis, and his rapid decline is described by his son in unflinching, macabre detail. The deathwatch is interspersed with dreamlike chapters set in the past that end up bringing the entire family — particularly the father — into high relief and creating a strong sense of sympathy in the reader. Morrison delicately explores family tensions as well as his resentments against his father, who was a domineering, often self-serving man. This powerful memoir may well be consecrated to the canon of father/son literature. A