HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
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
3651555,405 (3.96)15
"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)
Loading...

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

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 15 mentions

English (14)  Spanish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
One day, out of the blue, journalist Susan Faludi received an email from her estranged father, coyly announcing that he had gone to Thailand and had a sex-change operation. He was now Stefanie. How this squared with the macho mountain climber, wood worker, and explosively angry parent she had known was a question that drove her to fly to Hungary, where her father had repatriated himself after years in the U.S., to find out exactly who this person was.

Over the years, as she investigates her newly created parent, we learn about her life, her father's life during and after WWII, the history of Hungary, her parents' marriage, a somewhat surprisingly far-flung and never-met collection of relatives, and the state of Hungary under Viktor Orban, which continues today.

Faludi accepts her father's change, and refers to her father using the feminine pronouns throughout the book, which sometimes can create reader dissonance. Finally she resorts to introducing Stefanie as her mother. But she never questions his decision. Rather, she reports what she can, what he is willing to tell her, show her, or let her deduce.

In some ways this is an intimate story, but Susan's father keeps her such a teasing distance, tells such contradictory stories, that she and we her readers are indeed in the darkroom, hoping a recognizable picture emerges. What we do find out about her father and his family, and about Hungary, is well worth the exploration. ( )
  ffortsa | Nov 5, 2021 |
I bought this book knowing that it was a memoir about Faludi's father's transition to being a woman and their estranged relationship.

it's about much more than that: It's the story of identity, and how Ístvan Friedman, son of wealthy Budapest Jews, becomes Steven Faludi, American husband and father, and then Stéfanie Faludi, returned Hungarian. Faludi examines issues of gender, religion, nationality, and war to see how her father constructed his own identity, and at a remove, her own.

I have to specifically recommend this as a Jewish book, as much as anything to do with gender. The path of her family and their place in Hungary is fascinating. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (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.
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
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

"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?"--

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.96)
0.5
1
1.5 1
2 3
2.5
3 12
3.5 6
4 32
4.5 8
5 16

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 164,628,492 books! | Top bar: Always visible