Reading My Father’s Guitar and Other Imaginary Things felt like opening a box of old photographs — the ones that are awkward and embarrassing and perfect in their own, warped way.
Unlike most memoirs, My Father’s Guitar follows no chronological order. Each chapter stands alone as a story in Joseph Skibell’s life, the kind of stories you tell at weddings and funerals: the ones with the odd uncle and that time you ran into Sean Penn or three women all named Barbara in a bakery. Yet these moments strung together are what define Skibell as a person: his father’s illness, the impact of promises made under duress, his daughter’s transition from a little girl to a woman.
Skibell’s sense of humor permeates the book. From a haunted house, to ancient Jewish medicinal rituals, to “birdicure,” his memories range from philosophical to silly and every combination in between, simultaneously authentic and implausible. Each story amuses and delights, yet they are also bittersweet, even acerbic at times.
On page 25 you learn what happens if you write a bad review (poor Jeremy). Don’t worry, Mr. Skibell: I very much enjoyed your book!
Cathy Sussman’s passion is books. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, children, dog and cat. For her day job, she specializes in reinsurance and is a principal at Dubraski & Associates.