Life, Death and Bialys: A Father/​Son Bak­ing Story

Dylan Schaf­fer
  • Review
By – May 14, 2012
Dylan Schaf­fer agrees to meet his ter­mi­nal­ly ill father in New York City to take a week-long arti­sanal bak­ing class at the French Culi­nary Insti­tute. Dur­ing the course of their time togeth­er, Schaf­fer reflects on his mem­o­ries of his fam­i­ly, and these few days force him to con­front his child­hood mem­o­ries, often painful and unpleas­ant, head on. His moth­er, Cook­ie, was a psy­chi­a­trist who was her­self in and out of a men­tal insti­tu­tion. His father, Flip, was an upward climb­ing col­lege pro­fes­sor, who was often absent from home, pur­su­ing his own goals, which left his son to feel aban­doned as a child. Father and son had spent lit­tle time togeth­er through the years; nor did they know the first thing about bak­ing bread, but what emerges is an often poignant, engag­ing and heart­felt sto­ry about a dam­aged father/​son rela­tion­ship that is tran­scend­ed, changed, and in some ways repaired through a bak­ing class. This book is enter­tain­ing, wit­ty, and, at times, fun­ny, as it tack­les the issues of fam­i­ly and child­hood, recount­ed in a unique and heal­ing manner.
Bar­bara S. Cohen is a tri­al attor­ney in Los Ange­les who spe­cial­izes in child abuse cas­es. She is a mem­ber of NAMI and a sup­port­er of NARSAD, and is an advo­cate for those who suf­fer from men­tal illness.

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