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In the Early Times: A Life Reframed

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In this memoir, acclaimed New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend reflects on the pressures of middle age, exploring his relationship with his dying father as he raises two children of his own. Almost everyone yearns to know their parents more thoroughly before they die, to solve some of those lifelong mysteries. Maybe, just maybe, those answers will help you live your own life. In this memoir, acclaimed New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend reflects on the pressures of middle age, exploring his relationship with his dying father as he raises two children of his own. Almost everyone yearns to know their parents more thoroughly before they die, to solve some of those lifelong mysteries. Maybe, just maybe, those answers will help you live your own life. But life doesn't stop to wait. In his fifties, New Yorker writer Tad Friend is grappling with being a husband and a father as he tries to grasp who he is as a son. Torn between two families, he careens between two stages in life. On some days he feels vigorous, on the brink of greatness when he plays tournament squash. On others, he feels distinctly weary, troubled by his distance from millennial sensibilities or by his own face in the mirror, by a grimace that's so like his father's. His father, an erudite historian and the former president of Swarthmore College, has long been gregarious and charming with strangers yet cerebral with his children. Tad writes that "trying to reach him always felt like ice fishing." Yet now Tad's father, known to his family as Day, seems concerned chiefly with the flavor of ice cream in his bowl and, when pushed, interested only in reconsidering his view of Franklin Roosevelt. Then Tad finds his father's journal, a trove of passionate confessions that reveals a man entirely different from the exasperatingly logical father Day was so determined to be. It turns out that Tad has been self-destructing in the same way Day has--a secret each has kept from everyone, even themselves. These discoveries make Tad reconsider his own role, as a father, as a husband, and as a son. But is it too late for both of them? Witty, searching, and profound, In the Early Times is an enduring meditation on the shifting tides of memory and the unsteady pillars on which every family rests.


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In this memoir, acclaimed New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend reflects on the pressures of middle age, exploring his relationship with his dying father as he raises two children of his own. Almost everyone yearns to know their parents more thoroughly before they die, to solve some of those lifelong mysteries. Maybe, just maybe, those answers will help you live your own life. In this memoir, acclaimed New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend reflects on the pressures of middle age, exploring his relationship with his dying father as he raises two children of his own. Almost everyone yearns to know their parents more thoroughly before they die, to solve some of those lifelong mysteries. Maybe, just maybe, those answers will help you live your own life. But life doesn't stop to wait. In his fifties, New Yorker writer Tad Friend is grappling with being a husband and a father as he tries to grasp who he is as a son. Torn between two families, he careens between two stages in life. On some days he feels vigorous, on the brink of greatness when he plays tournament squash. On others, he feels distinctly weary, troubled by his distance from millennial sensibilities or by his own face in the mirror, by a grimace that's so like his father's. His father, an erudite historian and the former president of Swarthmore College, has long been gregarious and charming with strangers yet cerebral with his children. Tad writes that "trying to reach him always felt like ice fishing." Yet now Tad's father, known to his family as Day, seems concerned chiefly with the flavor of ice cream in his bowl and, when pushed, interested only in reconsidering his view of Franklin Roosevelt. Then Tad finds his father's journal, a trove of passionate confessions that reveals a man entirely different from the exasperatingly logical father Day was so determined to be. It turns out that Tad has been self-destructing in the same way Day has--a secret each has kept from everyone, even themselves. These discoveries make Tad reconsider his own role, as a father, as a husband, and as a son. But is it too late for both of them? Witty, searching, and profound, In the Early Times is an enduring meditation on the shifting tides of memory and the unsteady pillars on which every family rests.

30 review for In the Early Times: A Life Reframed

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    In The Early Times: A Life Reframed (2022) is a deeply profound and beautifully written family memoir and tribute to his late father, that highlights the father-son bond with an intense insight and clarity. Tad Friend is an award -winning author and staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine (1998-). Theodore Wood Friend III, (1931-2020) known as “Dorie” to his colleagues and “Day” to his family, was a highly intelligent distinguished professional academic, administrator-educator, world traveler, In The Early Times: A Life Reframed (2022) is a deeply profound and beautifully written family memoir and tribute to his late father, that highlights the father-son bond with an intense insight and clarity. Tad Friend is an award -winning author and staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine (1998-). Theodore Wood Friend III, (1931-2020) known as “Dorie” to his colleagues and “Day” to his family, was a highly intelligent distinguished professional academic, administrator-educator, world traveler, and notable scholar. Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush were included in a cherished family photograph related to Day’s service at the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship (1984-96)—although he was primarily recognized for his presidency at Swarthmore College. When he was 65, Day retired to care for his wife Elizabeth that later died from cancer (2003), he never remarried. As Day faced his declining years, he was cared for by a professional team of 24-hour care staff in the family home in Villanova. Tad wrote about this end-of-life period with the utmost dignity and respect. Tad read nearly everything Day wrote for publication and was surprised to learn that he was his father’s favorite living writer-- Day was usually critical and seldom offered any praise for his son’s work. Eventually Tad would examine undisclosed unpleasant truths and betrayals about his father’s private life— and how closely his own role as a husband and family man was similar. An agonizing courageous examination of his own life would follow that would lead him in a direction of genuine happiness and fulfillment. **With appreciation to the Seattle Public Library.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    A DNF for me. First off, thank you Goodreads for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I love the Goodreads Giveaway program! The book: A memoir of sorts, jumping from one time period to another as a man tries to understand a somewhat difficult-to-understand father. Maybe. It does appear to me, that from what I read - all the anecdotes, the written work his father left, the home movies, etc. - that Mr. Friend was left with a FULL READING of who and what and why his father was. Most of us A DNF for me. First off, thank you Goodreads for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I love the Goodreads Giveaway program! The book: A memoir of sorts, jumping from one time period to another as a man tries to understand a somewhat difficult-to-understand father. Maybe. It does appear to me, that from what I read - all the anecdotes, the written work his father left, the home movies, etc. - that Mr. Friend was left with a FULL READING of who and what and why his father was. Most of us don't get half this. Okay, I'm speaking for that nebulous 'most of us.' When actually I can only compare to my own experience: I adored my father, full-on, but he was the quietest man on Earth. So, there's my background and what I bring to reading a book like this. But well-written, amusing in part, though also tedious as one 'cute thing' the author's children did, or that he did, or that they said, or he said, and how his wife reacted goes on and on and on... I found it tiresome and the kind of book that means the most to those who knew the man, lived with him, loved him, saw him on a regular basis etc. This means family, friends, close colleagues and associates. I quit about a third of the way in... And I'm a WASP, too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Val

    My thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of In the Early Times: A Life Reframed. This book tells the story of New Yorker writer Tad Friend, who is grappling with being a husband and a father as he tries to grasp who he is as a son. In reviews, the book has been called witty, searching, and profound. I'm sad to say that I'm apparently not the target audience. I struggled with the chapters not being in chronological order and also with how wor My thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of In the Early Times: A Life Reframed. This book tells the story of New Yorker writer Tad Friend, who is grappling with being a husband and a father as he tries to grasp who he is as a son. In reviews, the book has been called witty, searching, and profound. I'm sad to say that I'm apparently not the target audience. I struggled with the chapters not being in chronological order and also with how wordy the book was. Ultimately, it was a DNF for me. Don't let my review prevent you from giving Early Times a try, though!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    The first three quarters was amazing, a perfect memoir. The last couple of chapters seemed like a driver way over correcting on a highway. Still highly recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Shepherd

    I received an ARC of this book free through a Goodreads giveaway. While I found this intetresting, the shifting from one time frame to another tended to be a bit confusing. This pages shows my copy as hardback, but I have a paperback edition.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    This writing is proscribed to all. Why do I comment? Because some of the subject matter was irrelevant to me (squash), (tennis), yet I read with gusto. Some of it was upsetting, yet blithely noted, yet I read with gusto. Tad Friend tells many tales of his childhood WASP life, along with family life of Brooklynites, glances into the career of his wife, founder of Food 52(longtime subscriber), amid many other topics of interest. Memoirs do not usually engage me. This one kept me guessing. It is to This writing is proscribed to all. Why do I comment? Because some of the subject matter was irrelevant to me (squash), (tennis), yet I read with gusto. Some of it was upsetting, yet blithely noted, yet I read with gusto. Tad Friend tells many tales of his childhood WASP life, along with family life of Brooklynites, glances into the career of his wife, founder of Food 52(longtime subscriber), amid many other topics of interest. Memoirs do not usually engage me. This one kept me guessing. It is to be noted that his honesty is blatant, which is a trait which would gather me back to read his next installment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael Clancy

    I received an advanced proof of the book from goodreads which is always nice. The book jumps back and forth so much between people and time frames that was confusing at times and caused me to lose interest quickly. I found I hated their pet names for each other, not sure why. Just another poor little rich family that wants you to feel sorry for them. Oh, come on. Couldn't bring myself to finish it. Additionally, very early in the book there is one very disgusting passage regarding sex that was s I received an advanced proof of the book from goodreads which is always nice. The book jumps back and forth so much between people and time frames that was confusing at times and caused me to lose interest quickly. I found I hated their pet names for each other, not sure why. Just another poor little rich family that wants you to feel sorry for them. Oh, come on. Couldn't bring myself to finish it. Additionally, very early in the book there is one very disgusting passage regarding sex that was so gross that I almost threw the book out and I am no prude. There was no need for that to be in the book and I feel it should be removed before the final copy of the book is published.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    The writing in this part memoir, part biography of the author's father, is superb, and I found the exploration of the lives of the various actors compelling, far more than I would have expected, considering they are writing from points of privilege that few of us will ever experience. The hardships that are written about may not have the intensity you see in other memoirs, but the author humanizes things so well, and writes so masterfully, that it becomes a very absorbing read. There is a confes The writing in this part memoir, part biography of the author's father, is superb, and I found the exploration of the lives of the various actors compelling, far more than I would have expected, considering they are writing from points of privilege that few of us will ever experience. The hardships that are written about may not have the intensity you see in other memoirs, but the author humanizes things so well, and writes so masterfully, that it becomes a very absorbing read. There is a confessional element, which becomes well evident in the latter half of the book, that may not appeal to some readers as much, but it becomes clear why the author had to write about his own painful journey.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maxine Jones

    Friend has a wonderfully precise way with words and consice expression of ideas. His life story mirrored many of my own experiences growing and being a parent. Though, I think he may have done better because of his willingness to be introspective early on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donna M

    Beautifully written about family—both your family of origin and the one you create.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rob Neyer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter Blake

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Conrad

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul McKenna

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Ray

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pete Viles

  20. 4 out of 5

    coffeegirlhere

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nadan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pablo Keller Sarmiento

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirstin Adams

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lena Peterson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer M.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ariana Neumann

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Boisi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz marx

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