Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O'Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!— From Kelly
July 2022 Indie Next List
“Ada Calhoun has given us a poised, magnificent memoir on family, her father, and of huge emotional and personal exploration. She delivers an unveiled perspective on capital ‘L’ literary New York. This one shines brilliantly for all to see.”
— Scott Abel, Solid State Books, Washington, DC
A staggering memoir from New York Times-bestselling author Ada Calhoun tracing her fraught relationship with her father and their shared obsession with a great poet
When Ada Calhoun stumbled upon old cassette tapes of interviews her father, celebrated art critic Peter Schjeldahl, had conducted for his never-completed biography of poet Frank O'Hara, she set out to finish the book her father had started forty years earlier.
As a lifelong O'Hara fan who grew up amid his bohemian cohort in the East Village, Calhoun thought the project would be easy, even fun, but the deeper she dove, the more she had to face not just O'Hara's past, but also her father's, and her own.
The result is a groundbreaking and kaleidoscopic memoir that weaves compelling literary history with a moving, honest, and tender story of a complicated father-daughter bond. Also a Poet explores what happens when we want to do better than our parents, yet fear what that might cost us; when we seek their approval, yet mistrust it.
In reckoning with her unique heritage, as well as providing new insights into the life of one of our most important poets, Calhoun offers a brave and hopeful meditation on parents and children, artistic ambition, and the complexities of what we leave behind.
About the Author
Ada Calhoun is the New York Times bestselling author of St. Marks Is Dead, Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give, and Why We Can't Sleep. She has written for the New York Times, the New Republic, and the Washington Post.