A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father.
With a new foreword
After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising a child.
Steve throws himself into San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference.
In Alysia’s teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she has befriended—fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it’s time to come home; he’s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create.
Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father’s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father’s legacy and a daughter’s love.
In her memoir of growing in San Francisco during the 1970's and '80s, Abbott, the only child of poet, editor, and activist Steve Abbott, ruminates on a pivotal slice of American social and cultural history, drawing on her father's poems, journals, and letters to relate her painful personal history. At two-years-old, Abbott's mother died, sparking Steve's homosexual awakening. Relocating from Atlanta to the West Coast soon after, the two formed a tenacious bond: "a traveling father-daughter act pulling schemes, subsisting on our charm, and always sticking together." But by her teenage years, the bohe-mian fantasy they shared and his efforts to beat depression and drug addiction wore thin and she moved away, first emotionally and then physically, to attend college in New York City and study in Paris. When Steve was diagnosed with AIDS and asked her to come home, Abbott openly rebeled against the responsibility. Colored with quirky, picturesque details of Bay Area counter culture, in-cluding its famous cafes, personalities, and periodicals, Abbott's narrative balances idiosyncratic flourishes with universal emotions of anger, resentment, jealousy, and guilt. Decades after the fact, it is clear she continues to struggle with her failures as daughter and caregiver. Yet, her fragile resolution is more honest than a tidy, suggesting that the most "outlandish" parts of our stories our own inade-quacies prove difficult to fully accept.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Deeply honest and insightful. Great read
This is an excellent read you won't want to put down. It captures the essence of a unique father/daughter relationship while speaking of the AIDS crisis. Important, personal and universal.
I just could not get into this book.