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Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia…
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Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father

by Alysia Abbott

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is a beautiful book about an unconventional parent and child. But I think most parents and most children can identify with aspects of the relationship between Alysia Abbott and her father. One of the best memoirs I've read in a long time; I'll be thinking about this one for a while. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I liked it as I read it but there's something missing. Alysia Abbott shares the story of growing up being raised by a single gay father in San Francisco after the death of her mother when she was a toddler (this might be spoiler-y but had her mom lived the author might have had a very different life from what was portrayed in the book). She describes growing up in light of the "free love" and "hippie" San Francisco, surrounded by people who took various drugs, many of whom were her father's boyfriends, etc.
 
While in some ways it was great (her father took her to poetry readings, was not incredibly strict, etc.) at times it was frustrating: Alysia did not have examples or role models as being gay was not exactly acceptable even in San Francisco at that time. Although the author meets wonderful people through her father, it can be a struggle. She hides the fact from her teachers who wonder why her father is single. His sexuality is not spoken of when she visits her mother's family over the summer. There are a few poignant paragraphs describing how the author had no reflections of her family in the media, which made me think of organizations like "We Need Diverse Books" and their movement for having books reflect the world we live in.
 
But while I mostly enjoyed the book while I was reading it, I was a little bored. I am familiar with San Francisco so her descriptions and memories are quite sweet (even though I wasn't alive during most of the book's timeline! :P), but I can also understand some negative reviews who found it boring. The author also portrays herself as selfish: not understanding what her father was going through, running away to New York and then Paris (and back). Some of this is understandable considering she had few outlets (not even family) for support. Abbot also discusses this in occasional asides discussing the AIDS epidemic and how some of the same entities that were blamed for it (bathhouses for example), many of those places were also good for building and finding support networks.
 
But it is not a book about the history of gay people (Abbot really only focuses on her father and some of his romantic relationships) in San Francisco. Instead we get an incomplete picture of her and her dad. It was nice while reading, but in some ways it also feels unfinished or filled with "filler" of her dad's letters and writings.
 
I did appreciate that this was a book unlike most I've read before, but ultimately this wasn't something I should have bought and wished I had borrowed it instead. Still, for the right person it might make an interesting read. I'd recommend a library borrow for sure, maybe a bargain buy. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
I loved this memoir about a girl being raised by her gay dad in 1970s and 80s San Francisco. Abbott uses her dad's letters and journals to supplement her own memories and it results in the most powerful of books. It's obviously specific to their relationship but I think anyone who had a parent or was a parent could easily relate to the emotions expressed here. I found this book to be very tender and very wise, without being the least sentimental or saccherine.

Highly highly recommend. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This is a beautiful book about an unconventional parent and child. But I think most parents and most children can identify with aspects of the relationship between Alysia Abbott and her father. One of the best memoirs I've read in a long time; I'll be thinking about this one for a while. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
A heartbreaking history of a broken family, in the voice of the surviving daughter. Alysia's mother dies in a car accident when she is two. Her father Steve, a poet, has emerged from the closet and they move from NYC to San Francisco. Steve Abbott is a fascinating, complex man, who tries his best to be all parents to Alysia, but the life of a gay man in SF in the seventies and eighties is tough enough for anyone, no less for two people who alternately cling and push each other away, both longing for solitude, independence, and to be wrapped in each other's love.

When Steve develops AIDS, Alysia is living in Paris, on break from NYU, in love with a Frenchman, and does not want to let Steve's illness put her life and ambitions on hold, despite the fact that he has made so many sacrifices for her. Painful truths are bravely told here, and the entire gamut of human bravery and selfishness is on display. ( )
  froxgirl | Jan 8, 2016 |
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Epigraph
I wanted to show children these fishes shining In the blue wave, the golden fish that sing --Arthur Rimbaud, "The Drunken Boat"
Dedication
for my mother and my father, and for Annabel, so she my some time know where her mother "was at."
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It's a late summer afternoon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393082520, Hardcover)

A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father.

After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising a child.

Steve throws himself into San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference.

In Alysia’s teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she has befriended—fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it’s time to come home; he’s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create.

Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father’s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father’s legacy and a daughter’s love.

10 illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

"A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and '80s San Francisco with an openly gay father."--Amazon.

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