A Cautionary Tale
It took me several months to finish this short book by the son of the famous writer William Saroyan. A personal journal kept over the course of the final three weeks of his father's life, Last Rites overflows with painful memories like a tidal wave of self-analytic emotion, regret, and barely suppressed rage. Incredibly, Aram's dysfunctional (to my way of thinking) persistence in trying to be near his abusive father in his last days pays off. Despite the title, there are no sacramental rites performed, which was a disappointment. But a cautionary tale for anyone who tends to idolize talent, which I think we all do to some extent. A must-read for students of Saroyan, if only as a means of paying one's respects to this larger-than-life Armenian American hero.