Fatherhood meant Bob Brody would finally become a mature adult — or so he thought
Essayist's new memoir, Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age, was published on Father's Day by Heliotrope Books
NEW YORK CITY — Like most of us, Bob Brody has never cheated on his wife, abused drugs, or run with a gang – but he decided to write a memoir anyway. Brody celebrates his almost-but-not-quite normal life in Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age, which was published just in time for Father's Day on June 18, 2017 by Heliotrope Books.
In vignettes by turns humorous and harrowing, Brody chronicles his ongoing struggle – as a conflicted son, a loving but often misguided husband and a trial-and-error parent – to attain something approximating adulthood. Playing Catch with Strangers is about Brody's often tormented, doubly disabled mother; his gentle-hearted but distant, workaholic father; his heroically generous-spirited mother-in-law; his ever-forbearing wife; and his much-blessed son and daughter.
For example, Brody recounts his 10-year estrangement from his mother, deaf since infancy, and a recent reunion and reconciliation with her. He confesses to a minor crime he committed as a boy against his father, also deaf, but never told him about while he lived. He reveals how a man with a gun in his hand, running toward Brody and his wife, forced him to prove once and for all exactly how much he would sacrifice for her.
On the lighter side, Brody explains how a drunken comment, obnoxious beyond belief, almost blew his first date with his future wife. Why his bid to be a hero to his family during a stormy ride on a ferry proved hilariously ill-fated. And how he discovered one day at the office that he was suddenly among the oldest employees there, a full-fledged tribal elder.
This memoir celebrates his life in New York City, with special emphasis on the borough of Queens that he's called home since 1977, where he learned, by trial and error, to finally become a mature adult. Brody reveals why his father once climbed an apartment building fire escape in the Bronx to woo his mother; how his grandfather unintentionally taught him a lesson about mortality in the upper left-field deck at Yankee Stadium during a World Series game; how his grandmother spoiled him to within an inch of his life; how his mugging in the East Village defined his attitude and behavior for life; and how his parents visited the 1964 World's Fair to try the videophone that promised a new future for the deaf. It ventures further by chronicling how his father boarded a train at age five to live more than 800 miles from home at a school for the deaf for the next ten years.
Playing Catch with Strangers is about Bob Brody's occasional successes and frequent failures; about his often-hapless attempts to be a good son, a good husband, a good father and, yes, a good son-in-law; and about his emergence, long overdue and against all odds, from spoiled suburbanite to someone vaguely resembling a grown-up, a family man from head to toe.
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