A former gang member turned college professor, paralyzed from the waist down after being shot, mourns his alcoholic father's death and considers the impact of his larger-than-life persona on him and his family.
A sense of tenuousness—or, more specifically, of the fluid interplay between death and life—is a key factor in The Death of My Father the Pope ... the memoir weaves back and forth in time, using memory and language to shade or expose the complexities of the father-son relationship ... both direct and hyperbolic ... This eulogy of sorts offers little room for grief ... The final chapter of the memoir, which details Silva’s conception, presents a creation myth that is the opposite of immaculate, a manifestation not of redemption but of his father’s primal sin ... The power of The Death of My Father the Pope lies in Silva’s willingness to address even this; he never looks away. His book is an unrequited love story, told in fragments, through the lens of death.
... compelling ... Silva’s story is delivered in fragments, nonlinearly, which allows for plenty of reflection and backstory needed to understand what informs the rage expressed in the opening chapter ... The only drawback to Silva’s narrative structure is that it invites too many opportunities for digressions (at one point he even admits to the reader that he’s off-topic). A few times he even sidetracks into over-examinations of facets in Mexican culture, like song lyrics or slang—who is Silva speaking to when he explains the genesis of the word güey? The wordplay in the title, however, does merit Silva’s thorough explanation. Readers will overlook his missteps, however, because Silva’s inner turmoil is relatable, his story engaging, and his arrival to a place of compassion unforgettable and poignant.
Interlacing scenes at his father’s funeral with memories of his own past, Silva lifts the veil on his life with an alcohol-addicted father and his own struggles with addiction and trauma. Beautifully illustrating the conflicting feelings that can erupt between father and son, Silva describes the moment he sees his father’s dead body for the first time ... A ruthlessly honest memoir about the very complex emotions that can exist between parents and children. Recommended.