Friday, December 29, 2017
The Wine Lover's Daughter by Anne Fadiman
It's Clifton Fadiman's story of rising above his Jewish childhood in Brooklyn. "Things were run by people who spoke well and who were not Jewish, not poor, and not ugly. He couldn't become a gentile, but there was nothing to stop him from acquiring money and perfect English." With his love of books, information, and knowledge, Fadiman developed the skills and English to make a living from his knowledge. Fadiman's wit and expertise brought him the jobs with radio, magazines, and the Book-of-the-Month club, jobs that provided him the money to indulge his other love, collecting wine.
Anne Fadiman, as her father's literary executor, had access to all of his writings, as well as her own memories of almost forty-six years with him. She tells his life story until his death at ninety-four. She tells of his feelings of inadequacies, while also discussing her own feelings of inadequacy when it came to wine and writing. She still checks to see there are more Google entries for her father than herself. And, she tells of looking for scientific reasons why she can't appreciate wine the way her father did. Like so many of us, she never outgrew the need for her father's approval.
While I skimmed over the named wines, I appreciated the story of Fadiman's life, and his daughter's story of it. It was the chapter called VIP that interested me the most, though. This chapter discussed his move to Captiva, Florida, late in life. It mentioned South Seas Plantation, 'Tween Waters. This was the period in which Fadiman went blind, and attended classes for the visually impaired in Ft. Myers.
I met Clifton Fadiman and his son, Kim, once on Captiva. I was the manager of the Captiva Public Library, and Fadiman and his son came in to donate books, including a copy of his book, The New Joys of Wine. It was so large we had no good place to put it. But, I knew who Clifton Fadiman was.
I met Clifton Fadiman just that one time. But, it was enough to make me pick up Anne Fadiman's memoir, interested in reading about the intellectual I saw as a book man. She saw him as her father, and sees herself as The Wine Lover's Daughter.
The Wine Lover's Daughter by Anne Fadiman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. ISBN 9780374228088 (hardcover), 272p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I asked the publisher to send me a copy.