One of the claims that is sometimes made for the memoir form is that it gives the author a degree of release from the past. Getting it down on paper can also be about getting it out – perhaps even out of the way. The title of Tim Elliott's memoir, Farewell to the Father, suggests that this may have been the goal here; that Elliott, in telling his story, would be able to farewell a man who, we learn, caused much suffering to both himself and his family. A great strength of this book, though, lies with the less satisfying, but I think more realistic, acceptance that definitive goodbyes of this kind are seldom possible. The past, and the layers of entrapment that may lie there, are much more complex than that.
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Farewell to the Father' by Tim Elliott
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Kári Gíslason teaches creative writing and literary studies at Queensland University of Technology. His book The Promise of Iceland was published by University of Queensland Press in 2011. His newest novel is The Ash Burner.
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