An unflinching memoir from a writer reckoning with his relationship with his troubled father and the complicated legacy that each generation hands down to the next
“Justin Taylor’s relentless, peripatetic, and tender search for reconciliation with his late troubled father blooms into a full-throated song of joy about his own life lived through music, teaching, travel, and literature.”—Lauren Groff, author of Florida
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
When Justin Taylor was thirty, his father, Larry, drove to the top of the Nashville airport parking garage to take his own life. Thanks to the intervention of family members, he was not successful, but the incident forever transformed how Taylor thinks of his father, and how he thinks of himself as a son.
Moving back and forth in time from that day, Riding with the Ghost captures the past’s power to shape, strengthen, and distort our visions of ourselves and one another. We see Larry as the middle child in a chilly Long Island family; as a beloved Little League coach who listens to kids with patience and curiosity; as an unemployed father struggling to keep his marriage together while battling long-term illness and depression. At the same time, Taylor explores how the work of confronting a family member’s story forces a reckoning with your own. We see Taylor as a teacher, modeling himself after his dad’s best qualities; as a caregiver, attempting to provide his father with emotional and financial support, but not always succeeding; as a new husband, with a dawning awareness of his own depressive tendencies.
With raw intimacy, Riding with the Ghost lays bare the joys and burdens of loving a troubled family member. It’s a memoir about fathers and sons, teachers and students, faith and illness, and the pieces of our loved ones that we carry with us always.