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A Father’s Words

A Novel

Cy Riemer—fifty-ish, divorced, and father of four—surveys the dispersal of his family with a mixture of anxiety, humor, sadness, and pride. In this wry, moving, and wise novel, Richard Stern offers his masterful portrait of Cy as the quintessential caring yet controlling parent, a relentless seeker of self-knowledge whose search is intensified through conflicts with his brilliant, ne’er-do-well son Jack. The "manipulation of a smart, sane, self-justifying narrator . . . is not the least of Stern’s achievements in this delicate fabrication of tough prose and tender adjustment of sentiment."—Geoffrey Wolff, Los Angeles Times

"Richard Stern’s novels are robustly intelligent, very funny, and beguilingly humane. He knows as much as anyone writing American prose about family mischief, intellectual shenanigans, love blunders—and about writing American prose."—Philip Roth

"A delectable rhetorical display. . . . "—The New Yorker

"Anyone who has read Richard Stern’s previous novels won’t need to be told he is an unusually crisp and intelligent writer, with a sharp edge to his wit; and in A Father’s Words he runs true to form. Many of the book’s pleasures are incidental: jokes, intellectual cadenzas, agile turns of phrase . . . The author’s powers of farcical invention climax in a brilliant, bitter episode where . . . the younger man proclaims his final failure . . . Mr. Stern has written an excellent novel."—John Gross, New York Times

"Richard Stern is American letters’ unsung comic writer about serious matters . . . [A Father’s Words] produced in this reviewer an apostolic desire to convince a wider audience to try Stern, especially the vintage Stern."—Doris Grumbach, Chicago Tribune

192 pages | 5.25 x 8.00 | © 1986

Phoenix Fiction

Fiction

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