In June 2011, just days before his sixty-ninth birthday, Jonathan Raban was sitting down to dinner with his daughter when he found he couldn't move his knife to his plate. Later that night, at the hospital, doctors confirmed what all had suspected: that he had suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, paralyzing the right side of his body. Once he became stable, Raban embarked on an extended stay at a rehabilitation center, where he became acquainted with, and struggled to accept, the limitations of his new body—learning again how to walk and climb stairs, attempting to bathe and dress himself, and rethinking how to write and even read.
A book I would have tracked down even if this weren’t my job ... Lively and bittersweet ... This is really two books that are stacked, like mozzarella and tomato, in one pile. The first is a sharp memoir about illness and recovery ... The sections about his parents are most alive as a love story.
The chapters on his parents are so distant from that in time, culture and feeling that the whole seems disjointed and pointless ... At first, that is; until, bit by bit, something remarkable and beautiful and ever so subtle grows, and Father and Son becomes Raban’s finest and most moving book ...A life ending, a life beginning. Father and son. I wept.