I’ve just finished reading Sue Miller’s The Story of my Father, an account of her Dad’s Alzheimer’s Disease. I was a fan of Miller’s writing well before I found this memoir–her novels include The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbotts. Graceful, evocative writing and the willingness to explore the darker side of life are two hallmarks of her work. This memoir is no different. I finished it in no time (it usually takes me awhile to read a book because I don’t have many long stretches of reading time, but I carted this one around with me and read it on coffeebreak or when I had ten minutes to myself). Her father’s story is familiar to many of us, yet new in its detail.
I was especially engrossed in the “Afterword”, where she comes to terms with her own difficulty in writing about her father and finally articulates just how her own writing process has become a way to heal. Her conclusion is not glib.
“For it is by writing, by the simultaneously pleasurable and painful processes of working my way through the material I collected and made of the years I labored on this memoir, that I’ve come to see that his consolation would always have lain beyond the reach of any story I could have made of his life. But it is by the making of the story, and by everything that changed in my understanding of him and of myself as I made it, that I have been, as the writer that I am, also consoled.”