The day before Father’s Day, we received one of those mass e-mails from a friend. I normally ignore group e-mails, especially the ones with links, but I respect this friend’s literary tastes (he’s an English teacher), so I followed the link and read the article he recommended. It was an excerpt from the book, “Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me,” by Ian Cron.
I liked the article for a couple of reasons. First, the author’s writing style presented that rare blend of earthy humor, astute insight, and artistic eloquence. Many writers have one or two of these qualities, but few possess all three. Second, I found the author himself to be relatable. He’s not a sports guy, but he’s well-read and articulate – like my husband. So I got the book for Jeff as a Father’s Day gift.
Jeff finished the book in a couple of sittings. To say he liked it would be an understatement. It spurred a number of conversations between us – the kind you start one day and pick up again the next, and then the next.
The book is “a memoir of sorts” about a strained and precarious relationship between a boy and his father. Cron’s story is layered with intrigue as he shares the discovery he made as a teen: His father once worked for the CIA as a secret agent. But when alcoholism took over his father’s life, terror and neglect took over his. Throughout his story, Cron artfully delves into the soul-damage an alcoholic father creates.
When Jeff was ten, his dad passed away, and then his stepdad overran their house with violence. So my husband could relate to a lot of what Cron had to say.
My mom recently came for a visit and saw the book sitting on a coffee table. Since my mom had an alcoholic father, she could relate as well. Mom read it in one sitting.
Finally, I had to give it a go.
It’s a great read.
I respect an author who can address such a heavy topic without it degenerating into a diatribe of how awful one’s childhood was. To the contrary, Cron speaks to the many paradoxes his father embodied. As Cron does so, he punctuates his story with funny twists of perspective.
At times I laughed out loud.
Even those blessed with seemingly idyllic families of origin can find value in Cron’s well-crafted words. He says:
“Home is where we start, and whether we like it or not, our life is a race against time to come to terms with what it was or wasn’t” (3).
Coming to terms with what it was or wasn’t.
He’s right. That’s what we all do – whether knowingly or not.
I realize that I am writing less of a review and more of an account of how the three of us experienced the book. But that is what marks truly great writing – the ability to connect with readers of different backgrounds. This book is now on my shortlist of books that I highly recommend.
(By clicking HERE , you can find it at Amazon.)