Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Things I never knew about my father" by Hanif Kureishi

When my father was 50, I was 20 and left home. At 50, Father was still trying to create the life he imagined was ahead of him, if he got the words in the right order. I'd like to talk to him about it, and have often tried to write a story about a man who goes into a pub on his 50th birthday and runs into his father, who is also 50. The two would talk as equals for the first time, the son seeing the father as a man like him. The son would be gay, a theatrical producer, and the father going to meet a lover. I haven't been able to write a word of their dialogue I can, though, see them walking away from one another at the end." (Read)

Kureishi has since written the story described, including dialogue. It appeared in the New Yorker of March 8th this year and was called "Long Ago Yesterday." It begins:

One evening just after my fiftieth birthday, I pushed against the door of a pub not far from my childhood home. My father, on the way back from his office in London, was inside, standing at the bar. He didn’t recognize me, but I was delighted, almost ecstatic, to see the old man again, particularly as he’d been dead for ten years, and my mother for five.

“Good evening,” I said, standing next to him. “Nice to see you.”

“Good evening,” he replied.


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