HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
dismiss
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

In the Darkroom (2016)

by Susan Faludi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3131359,200 (3.94)14
"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?"--… (more)

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 14 mentions

English (12)  Spanish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
In an engaging style, Faludi tells the story of how her relationship with her father develops over time as they both change and as Faludi discovers new facets of her father's life and personality. After reading for what felt like a short time, I would look up from the book and be surprised that I'd read as far as I had. That usually only happens to me with fiction. It was a little difficult to tell the chronology of events sometimes, and there was more Hungarian history than I expected, but aside from one or two dry stretches, even that history was engaging to read.

Interwoven with the story of her relationship with her father, Faludi brings up some very interesting points, like what is the difference between an individual self-identifying as a gender other than the one assigned them at birth and a far-right political party self-identifying as something other than "far-right" (and the government backing them on their demands that the press no longer call them far-right)? There are differences, for sure, but it's not something I'd thought of before, and I'm finding it interesting to think in this direction. I absolutely believe that gender is fluid rather than binary and that individuals should be able to choose their own pronouns, but what happens when we apply the same rules of self-identity to corporations, political parties, governments, and other entities that we do to individuals? This is kind of thing could (and perhaps already does) lead to Orwellian doublethink.

I also found chilling the way Faludi traces the nationalism in Hungary from rhetoric to violence. First step: Develop an exclusionary national identity and ignore or bully into silence any voices outside of that defined identity. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
I gave up after 100 pages. Susan's father is a thoroughly unpleasant person, male or female. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jun 17, 2019 |
Reading Susan Faludi's "In the Darkroom" reminded me of a good line that some critic had about Fred Leuchter, Jr. the creepy, fixated, and potentially oblivious subject of the Errol Morris documentary "Mr. Death," "If this guy didn't exist, Errol Morris would have been forced to invent him." It probably says more about the book than the author, but it sometimes seems that every single subject and circumstance in "In the Darkroom" was specifically created so that Susan Faludi could write about it. And there's a lot of stuff in here: Faludi gets into gender and race and genocide and her comfortable suburban childhood and European history the history and theory of gender reassignment, Hungary's hard-right politics and its troubled historical memory, and German pastries. Miraculously, the life of the fromer István (and later Stéfanie) Faludi touched on all of these subjects to some extent, and thanks to her daughter's talents as a writer and reporter, it comes together beautifully. The result is a book that manages to be insightful about both historical tragedies and gender, human psychology and family drama.

"In the Darkroom" is, at least nominally, a book about identity: Faludi's father used to pride himself on the fact that being Hungarian meant that it was easy for him to "fake things" and "get away with it." As Hungarian Jews, his family walked a nervous line between acceptance and fear. He essentially purchased himself a hypermasculine identity in American suburbia in the mid twentieth century. The author spends considerable time trying, in essence, to drill down for enough to drill deep enough in her father's experience to hit some sort of solid, unalterable conceptual ground but keeps hitting unexpected evasions and empty spaces. Indeed, she readily admits that her own feminist and Jewish identities were born mostly about her fathers' silence on these topics. But while I enjoyed her description of the history and academic gender theory that currently underpins thinking about transsexuals and transsexuality and found her criticisms cogent, but after finishing it I wondered if "In the Darkroom" wasn't an exploration of the long-term effects of trauma. From her father's comfortable if emotionally deprived childhood, his terrifying experiences in wartime Budapest, to the sadness and rootlessness that followed the war, the same sort of hurt kept reverberating through István/Stefánie's life and, by proxy, his daugher's and his widely scattered descendants. On both a personal and societal level, the effects of trauma, Faludi seems to be telling us, run very deep and play out over a long time.

As good as this one is, I might have docked it half a star not because of its author but because of its subject. The author's parent is likable neither as a man or as a woman: talented but angry, emotionally distant, controlling and overbearing and occasionally violent, and one of those old-school European high culture snobs to boot. I suspect he (and later, of course, she) will drive off more than a few readers well before they arrive to the final pages of "In the Darkroom". I grew tired of him myself, feeling, perhaps, a bit of the defensiveness and uneasiness that the author often seems to have when she was around him. She maintains a professional journalistic silence about her opinions on his decision to alter his gender, but his likely wasn't a typical transition story, and the experience may not have affected him in exactly the ways that he wished it would. Susan, to her credit, plumbs deep into her father's experience, but almost to the end, he remains more invested in performance and image than sincerity and truth and an unpleasant, if sometimes formidable, figure. I can call "In the Darkroom" extremely recommendable book, but also found it to be a sad and frustrating reading experience. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Jan 31, 2019 |
The historical parts - what her father experienced in the WWII etc... - were really interesting but, man, there was a lot of extra chit chat about totally... gossipy family tidbits - makes the book a lot of reading for the value. Weeeelllll, I suppose memoir readers will like that but history lovers may not. I'm in for the history and i still recommend the book because the historical pieces are so interesting. The author writes well so it wasn't too painful to listen to the other parts. ( )
  marshapetry | Dec 8, 2018 |
Susan Faludi was mostly estranged from her father, when, in 2004, she received an email informing her that her father had, at age 76, had gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, and was now Stefani. This was not the first name change for the former Steven Faludi, who had been born Istvan Friedman, but changed the last name to a more Hungarian and less Jewish sounding name. Susan had grown up in the US, and knew only stories about how her father had survived WWII and had come to the US. Susan Faludi had been a teen when her parents divorces, and had had only sporadic contact with her father after that.

Susan flew to Hungary, where her father was living, and spent the next ten years re-connecting with Stefani. It was not an easy process. Early in the process she ruminates:

"What was I doing here? She seemed to be the same old impenetrable, walled-off person he had always been. As far as I could tell, becoming a woman had only added a barricade, another false front to hide behind. Every road to the interior was blocked by a cardboard cutout of florid femininity, a happy housewife who couldn't wait to get "back to the kitchen," a peasant girl doing the two step in a Photoshopped dirndl."

In the beginning of the book, Stefani seems a very self-centered person, who wants to communicate with her daughter, but only on her terms, and avoiding huge swaths of conversational topics. In particualr, Stefani is conflicted about her Jewish identity and about antisemitism in Hungary. Faludi intersperses personal stories with research into transgender issues and Hungarian history. This technique is a little choppy at times, but over-all, it works. As the book evolves, the relationship between father and daughter deepens.

In one of my favorite scenes, the two dance in a Disco party in an abandoned factory in Budapest.

"My father and I circled around each other for a few minutes. Then I put out my hand and she took it. I couldn't teach her the "female steps" to a Viennese waltz, but I'd done my time in New York's limelight. I knew what to do with Michael Jackson. I led her through a few moves and soon we were swinging each other around. It occurred to me that I hadn't danced like this in ages. It occurred to me that I was having a good time.
...I looked back at my father. She was grinning and not that anxious half-grin she so often had on her face. I held up my arm and she twirled underneath like a pro." ( )
  banjo123 | May 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Faludiprimary authorall editionscalculated
André, EmeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.94)
0.5
1
1.5 1
2 3
2.5
3 11
3.5 6
4 27
4.5 8
5 14

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 147,921,446 books! | Top bar: Always visible