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Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell

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Deeply thoughtful, searingly honest and exquisitely lyrical, Fathers & Sons is an exploration of fatherhood, masculinity, authenticity and family.


Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell

Was he thinking, do I have to be this kind of boy to survive? Is this what being a boy is? As a boy growing up on the south coast of England, Howard Cunnell's sense of self was dominated by his father's absence. Now, years later, he is a father, and his daughter is becoming his son. Starting with his own childhood in the Sussex beachlands, Howard tells the story of the years of self-destruction that defined his young adulthood and the escape he found in reading and the natural world. Still he felt compelled to destroy the relationships that mattered to him. Saved by love and responsibility, Cunnell charts his journey from anger to compassion, as his daughter Jay realizes he is a boy, and a son. Most of all, this is a story about love - its necessity and fragility, and its unequalled capacity to enable us to be who we are.


'There is so much aching love in this book, such pain and beauty. Behold, and rejoice' -- Tim Winton, author of Cloudstreet

'This book tells the story of how family is made. It tells it frankly, unexpectedly and in such a way that both family and expectations are rewritten and renewed. I couldn't put it down. Bold, brave, beautiful - much more than biology. This is life itself.' -- Jackie Kay, author of Red Dust Road

'A miracle of a book: sad, wise, strong and hopeful, its depiction of parenthood will stay with me for a long time' -- Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways

'Fathers and Sons is a beautiful, moving, and marvellously honest book. I relished its resolutely masculine point of view, especially on such a subject, and the tenderness and sensuality with which Cunnell depicts child-rearing.' -- Kate Clanchy, author of Antigona and Me

'With Fathers & Sons, Howard Cunnell rips himself apart and reminds us what true artists do with all the mistakes they've ever made. They turn them into art. Dazzling and memorable, here is a strong and moving mosaic depicting the wayward mystery of our souls' -- Austin Collings, author of The Myth of Brilliant Summers

'Howard Cunnell has forged from the most painful of raw materials a modern masterpiece of fiction... The lonelieness of a boy who never knew his father, Jason, who in turn became a father to Jay, a boy trapped in the wrong female body. Their journeys are rendered in prose as exquisite as the spaces of sea, sun and freedom Cunnell always chased for salvation and worked so hard to describe, finally finding himself and that redemption in the gift that was denied to him: being a father to a son' -- Cathi Unsworth, author of Weirdo

About the Author

Howard Cunnell has a Ph.D. from the University of London, and has been a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Sussex. He is the editor of Jack Kerouac's On the Road: The Original Scroll, which the New York Times described as 'the living version for our time'. A former professional scuba-diving instructor, he lives in London with his wife and children.

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Book Info

Publication date

31st January 2017


Howard Cunnell

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Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan


224 pages
Interest Age: From 18 years


Biography / Autobiography
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Intergenerational relationships



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