In the Darkroom

In the Darkroom

Book - 2016
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"From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash, comes In the Darkroom, an astonishing confrontation with the enigma of her father and the larger riddle of identity consuming our age. 'In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things -- obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness.' So begins Susan Faludi's extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father -- long estranged and living in Hungary -- had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who claimed to be 'a complete woman now' connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who'd built his career on the alteration of images? Faludi chases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father's many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful -- and virulent -- nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals. Faludi's struggle to come to grips with her father's reinvented self takes her across borders -- historical, political, religious, sexual -- to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you 'choose,' or is it the very thing you can't escape? "--
""In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things--obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness." So begins Susan Faludi's extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father--long estranged and living in Hungary--had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who claimed to be "a complete woman now" connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known? Faludi chases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father's many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful--and virulent--nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals. Faludi's struggle to come to grips with her father's reinvented self takes her across borders--historical, political, religious, sexual--to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you "choose," or is it the very thing you can't escape?"--
Publisher: London, William Collins, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishing,, 2016.
ISBN: 9780008193508
Characteristics: 417 pages ; 24 cm.

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maryellenwilson
Apr 04, 2019

Amazing book by Susan Faludi (she is a photo-journalist) about her father Stefan Faludi -- Hungarian (lots of Hungarian history & politics. Jewish -- saved his parents from Nazis by pretending to be a brown shirt; marched them out of Budapest at gun point & got them across the border. After the war came to America -- worked for Conde Nast in NYC -- all the big fashion photographers wanted only Faludi to print their photographs. Finally married; moved to the Midwest? Two children -- Susan & a brother. Very violent man; beat his wife and when she & the children finally left him; broke into their house and stabbed the man she was seeing and terrorized the children. When Susan last saw him she was a late teen/early 20s. They were estranged for 25 years until she got an email from him telling her that he was back in Budapest and had had transgender re-assignment and was now Stephanie & she should come and visit him/her and write her story. Still a very controlling person and evasive -- she was in her early 70s now. It was so strange to read the book, Susan would say, "My father, she..." A group of male to female people in their 60s & 70s reveling in how wonderful it was to be a woman and be "taken care of" and not have to do difficult things because all the men would do them now. (Very 1950s -- strange and many of them were not happy). Stephanie was still petitioning the Hungarian government for the return of several houses in Budapest that were confiscated during the war. I don't know where her money came from, but money was no object -- she lived in a fortress outside of town & had moved Stefan's entire darkroom set up from New York to an attic in her estate. After visiting on & off for several years Susan was finally able to get some "straight" answers about the past and Stefan's family. Very interesting!

j
jr3083
Sep 18, 2016

How does the child -even as an adult- react when a parent changes gender? In this book Susan Faludi, feminist and theorist, reconnects with a father she barely knew when he emails her with news that he is now not Steven, but Stephanie. She travels to Hungary a number of times over succeeding years, re-establishing a relationship with this new person, and trying to make connections between the two halves of his life (something Stephanie did not try to do). It's a cerebral book, but rooted in the emotions. See my full review here:
https://residentjudge.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/in-the-darkroom-by-susan-faludi/

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