Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers
This poignant memoir recounts the artistic life and death of Freya Manfred's father, the prolific and highly regarded author Frederick Manfred. Using family letters and passages from her father's novels as well as her own memories, she explores their powerful personal and literary relationship, which spanned nearly five decades. She describes what it meant to be the daughter of a strong-willed man who was dedicated, sometimes at great cost, to a creative life. Her story starts with the tender power and beauty of his funeral in 1994, then moves back to a clear-eyed and often humorous depiction of their home life, which was shaped by her father's insistence on the quiet and solitude necessary for his writing. She remembers the shift in their relationship as her literary career blossomed and he added the roles of mentor and friend. Finally, she shares frank and loving details of her family's struggle to help her father die well.
Novelist Philip Roth says, "This rare book about the intimacy between a father and his daughter is notable for its affection, sensitivity, generosity, and gratitude. In a larger sense it is the revealing examination of an American writer's lifelong struggle with his material and with his cultural fate."
Poet Robert Bly says, "This is a very moving book. We often hear careful accounts of the life of an artist, but seldom the death of an artist. Freya's faithfulness to that transition is unusual and powerful."
(Nominated for a Minnesota Book Award and an Iowa History Award.)
Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, MN. 1999. 198 pgs.