Sing This at My Funeral: A memoir of fathers and sons
Wayne State University Press, US$27.99 pb, 280 pp, 9780814344866
Sing This at My Funeral is not your conventional ghost story. Invoking Franz Kafka’s words, ‘Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts, and by no means just the ghost of the addressee but also with one’s own ghost, which secretly evolves inside the letter one is writing or even in a whole series of letters’, this moving memoir by David Slucki gives shape to the ghost of Zaida Jakub, the grandfather he never knew. Following his beloved father Sluggo’s death in 2015, the author, a Melbourne-born professor of Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, discovered a series of letters written by Zaida Jakub to his brother Mendel in Los Angeles over three decades. Weaving together excerpts of these letters and incorporating family photographs, the memoir reconstructs the story of Zaida Jakub’s profound personal loss during the Holocaust and examines its effects on subsequent generations. In Slucki’s own words, this book is about ‘how the difficult memories of the past shaped the relationships between fathers and their sons, how the ghosts kept multiplying, never far from the surface’.