Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing on Family: by Skip Hollandsworth, Don Waters & Karl Taro Greenfeld

Two pieces of writing I've seen lately struck me as profound work that both trafficked in the topic of family... and made me think of a third piece on family I first saw a few years ago.

Most recently read piece was by Don Waters for the June issue of Outside Magazine. "Chasing Family History on California's Surf Breaks" is about Waters learning about and forming a posthumous connection with a father, Robert Waters, who left when his son three years old. It's heartfelt writing that has a number of interesting elements to it, including the unpublished autobiography a dying Robert Waters left to his writer son as an intended bridge, a love of surfing held at different points by both men, and the younger Waters spending time with surfing legend Greg Noll (heavily featured in the excellent movie Riding Giants) to understand better the father that Noll knew some 50 years prior. Also interesting from the time Don Waters spends with Noll is his interactions with son Jed Noll, as a compare and contrast situation between the two sets of father and son.

The other piece of writing on family that struck me recently was actually one from 2009, but I hadn't seen until yesterday. Written for Texas Monthly by Skip Hollandsworth, "Still Life" is a long feature on high school football player John McClamrock and the life of he and his family after being paralyzed during a 1973 game. Very riveting piece which heavily shows the devotion of a mother and brings to mind for me a quote from the Mike Sager Esquire piece "Depression" (not posted online)... “how much can one man take? As much as need be."

Both stories are excellent work (with the Hollandsworth one particularly emotion-inducing) and the subject of family (particularly family devotion and sacrifice) made me think of a Karl Taro Greenfeld piece from Time Magazine. I posted briefly on it when in when I saw the story back in 2009 and "Growing Old with Autism" (excerpted from his book Boy Alone: a Brother's Memoir was powerful and very personal writing by Greenfeld.