Couser, G. Thomas. “Letter to My Father: A Memoir”, Hamilton Books, 2017.
When he was twenty-three-years-old, Thomas Couser wrote a letter to his father that he felt had something to do with his dad’s mental collapse. Now, he looks back and reexamines his father’s life using documents found after his death. He needs to reflect on their relationship and reach a reconciliation with a man he had not really known
Here is Couser’s quest to understand and imagine his father’s life and it us an affecting and effective story of reclamation. The book is a combined biography, and detective story that focuses on and shows the emotional and literary power of a son’s love. At late mid-life, Tom Couser researched his father and gives us a memoir that shows a son struggling to maintain respect, even love when tempted to be filled with anger and disillusionment. Here memoir becomes an exercise in mourning.
Couser was motivated by a desire to atone for an earlier letter that failed in its intention. Couser’s search to know his father was filled with regret and questions. He wants to know the father that he really never knew. He tries to fill the blank spaces about the father that he resembles but does not know. He feels that he needs to know if he was implicated in his father’s death from alcoholism and depression and whether his letter was a catalyst for it. Couser uncovers his father’s complex emotional life but a bit too late for his dad.