The Fathers We Find
Charles Ries, author
Charles P. Ries latest book, The Fathers We Find, set amidst the farm fields and rolling hills of Southeastern Wisconsin. It is a coming-of-age story that takes place between 1950 and 1971. Based on memory, The Fathers We Find closely parallels the experiences of its author, Ries, who grew up on a mink farm just outside of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Drowning in a sea of nuns, priests, and hard-working church-goers, “Chuck,” our narrator, stumbles his way to enlightenment with help from a series of delightful men in a hilarious, poignant, and nostalgic journey.
Five-time Pushcart Prize nominee Ries turns from poetry (Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love) to prose in this memoir of life in rural Wisconsin, sensitively capturing “the mysterious pieces of a boy on the verge of becoming.” Ries combines his gift for language with an insight into the relationships at the core of the book: “the parents we are given, and the parents we find.” He deals mostly with his father, a devout Catholic whose world was built on the “routines and rituals” of religion and running a successful mink farm, and whose “silent, stoic” personality Ries unsuccessfully tries to emulate. The memoir gives a detailed look at the “earthy way” of growing up raising and killing minks (“Death during pelting season was quick and painless”). But overall the focus is on the connection he lacks with his father but finds with other men, including his brothers and Marvin, the hired man on the farm, “who found his God in living, with the same passion that my father found in church.” Marvin is the exemplar of “the fathers we are given. Men who appear in our lives and magically see our nature and potential.” (BookLife)