Cover Image: Let's Never Talk About This Again

Let's Never Talk About This Again

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This is really well loved by most but it didn't do much for me and parts left me somewhat bothered. This is supposed to be a memoir about Alterman's father and her relationship with him, but she makes it about herself for most of the book. I don't know why we needed so many details about things like her first boyfriend, the crappy guy who used her for sex, her planned c-section, how much she was afraid she wouldn't like her baby, her bad camping trip with the guy she married, etc.

Why so much information about her sex life as a teenager and how her boyfriend left her for another girl? Why so little on why she loved her father? She presents him as an uptight and controlling jerk for most of her childhood even though she says several times at the end that he was funny and admirable. She doesn't show that. She gives lots of examples of him being prudish and kind of an ass, and then she basically makes fun of him for losing his memory, becoming fixated on reviving his sex books, telling the same stories, and becoming a "crazy old man."

Then she gives heartbreaking details like the scene of him lying on the floor of the nursing home in nothing but an adult diaper and moaning, with the staff having to use a crane to get him back into bed. What loving daughter puts that in a memoir of a man she claims to love and admire? This is how most of the world will come to know this man. That breaks my heart.

It is so hard to balance giving painful facts with protecting a person's dignity. If Alterman had done more to show us what a funny, loving, wonderful man her father might have been, I would forgive the mocking tone of most of this book. But she never does. She never really seems to care about anybody in her life other than herself and how everything affects her. I know she must, but she writes all about how her father's terrible illness affected HER and occasionally her poor mother, but she's the major victim of Alzheimer's in her story.

I rarely found the book funny and I didn't find it touching. I kept thinking how horrified her proud father would have been to have this be his legacy. She was dumbfounded that her father would want to write his comedy sex books with her once he was old and she was grown, instead of realizing that parents do eventually see their grown children as friends and peers and that it was a sign that he just saw her as a competent person who could have helped him with something that he was actually very proud of and hopeful about.

Alterman made her title very similar to Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," which seemed a little strategic to me. I see that Lawson wrote a glowing review of this book and wonder if they're friends. Alterman does seem to emulate Lawson but she lacks Lawson's raw vulnerability and emotional honesty. She just comes across as cold and self centered to me.

Alzheimer's is such a terrible disease. The people it strikes deserve to be treated with sensitivity and respect. This story could have been told to balance the humor and tragedy, keeping Ira's dignity yet still telling the truth. Ultimately though, it didn't.

I read a digital ARC of this book for review.
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Unpopular opinion, but this one didn’t work for me. The blurb, and most reviews I’ve seen discuss the author’s Dad revamping his secret porn book writing when he is fishy with Alzheimer’s. That’s not quite the focus here. First, the first half of the book discusses her upbringing. And, the hypocritical way her father imposed rules and has angry outbursts was highly cringeworthy. I almost bailed before the diagnosis. After the diagnosis, this was a fairly straightforward memoir about Alzheimer’s and decline which was the better part of the book.
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Wow, unsure where to start with this review. 

Let’s Never Talk About This Again is a memoir that I almost didn’t finish. I decided to stick through it, and let me tell you I’m so glad I did. This book started out a little raunchy, which turned me off at first, but ultimately led into a heartbreaking story about a daughter watching her father mentally deteriorate before her eyes. 

This memoir made me truly laugh out loud (the hiking trip part, you’ll see) and also put me on the verge of tears. It was raw, emotional, honest, and amazing. The writing was spectacular, which is sometimes not true for a memoir, and I can honestly say I stayed up as late as I could last night to finish every word. 

I loved this book, and I’m also appreciative of the author for allowing us as readers a look into her world and her story. So to Sara Alterman, thank you.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sara Alterman for providing a digital review copy in exchange for honest feedback.
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Sara Faith Alterman Shares Humor And Heartbreak In Memoir 'Let's Never Talk About This Again'
By Nick A. Zaino III
https://www.wbur.org/artery/2020/07/28/sara-faith-alterman-memoir-lets-never-talk-about-this-again 

Sara Faith Alterman is not a dark person. She likes to laugh with people and make them laugh. She has done that writing humorous novels and, earlier in her career, writing sketch comedy for ImprovBoston, and currently helps other people find the laughs in their high school embarrassments as a producer with the “Mortified” storytelling show. The story she tells in her new memoir, “Let’s Never Talk About This Again” (out now), required a different approach. It is a tribute to her father Ira’s influence on her sense of humor and writing career, but it is framed by the battle with Alzheimer’s Disease that he ultimately loses.

Sara Faith Alterman (Courtesy Benjamin Winter)
Sara Faith Alterman (Courtesy Benjamin Winter)
Alterman can be silly, and she frequently indulges in her love of wordplay. The main story, broken into the “Before,” “During” and “After” of Ira’s Alzheimer’s, is heartbreaking, detailing how he loses his job and deteriorates rapidly cognitively and physically, slipping further from his family’s reach. She presents these dark and light moments together as a matter of fact — they are often happening simultaneously. The DNA for this nuanced tone is evident in the first two paragraphs. She writes:

I am pundamentally a word nerd. It comes from my father, or came, I guess. Past tense. He died. But his puns live on posthumorously.

Dad’s name is Ira, or was. I don’t know if a box of dust can have a name. I guess Ira is as good a name as any for a box of dust.

Alterman didn’t want to be coy about the fact that her father dies in the end — she hates when writers do that. “I just wanted to establish the stakes of the book right away,” she says, speaking by Zoom from her home in San Francisco, “but I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t feel doom and gloom, and felt like it did set the tone of the book, which is, ‘I’m going to talk about difficult and sad things, I’m going to try to do it in a way that is funny and hopefully fresh, but not in a way that feels like I’m either making light of death or trying to joke around my own pain.”

In one section, Alterman goes with her parents when they visit the doctor who diagnosed Ira. She feels angry and wants to blame the doctor for claiming her father had this condition, but she can’t help but turn it into alliteration. She writes that she almost said the phrase, “doctor dared diagnose Dad’s dementia,” which she thought her dad would find funny, but the doctor cut her off. “I think I process most of my life through ways that my father influenced me, which is good and bad,” she says. “I still find myself, now, making the same hokey jokes to my son’s teachers that he would make to my teachers.”

In many ways, Alterman has followed in her father’s footsteps. Ira wrote for Boston After Dark, which became The Boston Phoenix by the time Alterman wrote for them. He used his sense of humor in print, writing illustrated novelty books with titles like “Games You Can’t Lose,” and told his kids original bedtime stories. Alterman admired how quickly her father could find the right word, and she would often seek his collaboration after she started writing professionally. “I would call him and we would approach writing sentences as math problems to be solved,” she says. “It was the most fun that we had together, was just kind of working together to brainstorm an adjective. Which is so nerdy! But we just loved it.”

Sara Faith Alterman with her dad Ira. (Courtesy)
Sara Faith Alterman with her dad Ira. (Courtesy)
Not everything he wrote had a positive influence. Alterman writes about finding a stash of racier books her father wrote on a high shelf when she was a kid. Humorous, illustrated sex manuals and one series featuring photographs of a rotund woman named Bridget nude or partly nude, whose sexuality was the butt of the joke. Seeing those books as an adolescent contributed to negative body images that made Alterman self-conscious. “It’s funny, but as a teenage girl, I remember very much internalizing this notion that if you’re fat, you deserve to be made fun of,” she says. “Which, as a teenage girl, you’re getting from the kids around you anyway, but to get it from material that your father created was especially difficult.”

The fact that Ira would write these books was surprising to Alterman since her family didn’t like to talk much about difficult subjects like sex — that’s where the title of the book comes from. On movie nights, her dad used to forward past the “kissy” parts so the kids wouldn’t see them. Alterman never discussed the books with her father, something she has mixed feelings about now. “These books were always such a source of discomfort and confusion for me that I wish we’d sort of cleared the air about them so that I could hear the story behind them,” she says. On the other hand, if her father was truly piggish and fat-shaming, “I kind of didn’t want confirmation of that.”

Alterman also shows her father’s protective side. The cover of the book shows a stuffed animal gorilla with white fur, which represents a toy Ira once gave to his daughter when she was having nightmares. He called it a “dream gorilla,” and told her if she ever felt scared, it would “grow really big, and scare away the monsters.” Later in the narrative, when Alterman is dealing with a newborn son and watching her father slip away all too quickly, she admits to him that she wishes she “had someone to scare away the bad guys again.”

The cover of Sara Faith Alterman's memoir "Let's Never Talk About This Again." (Courtesy Grand Central Publishing)
“Nah,” her father says in the book. “You’re the gorilla now.”

It’s an emotionally devastating line. Not only was it exactly what Alterman needed to hear, but it also came at a time when her father’s mind was firmly in the grip of Alzheimer’s. “It was a really powerful moment for me because it was one of his last moments of clarity when he was alive,” she says. “But also so evocative of the person I always knew him to be.”

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There is some irony in interviewing someone who wrote a book titled “Let’s Never Talk About This Again,” in which they repeatedly mention a family proclivity to avoid impolite conversation. And Alterman admits that interviews make her nervous — she’d much rather communicate through her writing.

But she has no problem talking about the book (she’ll even talk about it in public for an online event for Harvard Book Store on July 30). Writing it gave her the chance to evolve into someone who speaks more freely about things that make her uncomfortable. “Initially the book was going to be just a collection of funny essays about my zany dad,” she says. “And I connected with the woman who ended up becoming my editor, Suzanne O’Neill, and she said, ‘no, I love your writing but I think this is a long-form memoir. I think you need to allow yourself to be much more emotionally vulnerable and accessible.’”

Ira died in 2015, but Alterman was still grieving when she started the book two years ago and still finding new things about her father, sorting through boxes of her father’s books and personal items her mother sent her for research. She is proud to have been able to include one of his children’s stories in the final chapter and hopes the opportunity might arise to publish more of his writing posthumously.

Writing a keenly honest book about him was a catharsis, but sending it out into the world without being able to talk to him about it is bittersweet. “The same way that he and I used to put our heads together about words,” she says, “I don’t get to put my head together with his about the experience of writing books.”
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This is such a gem in world of memoirs. You will laugh a lot, but be prepared to have your tissues handy, because YOU WILL shed some tears.

Sara grew up in a conservative household in Massachusetts. She was not allowed to watch PG-13 movies until she was 13, there was no cursing. Her parents loved her very much, but her father had a bit of a temper at times. When Sara was little, she discovers books her father wrote that are in the pornographic genre. As she gets older and reads them, she discovers that they really mess with her mind when she starts dating.

When we get to Sara as an adult, she no longer lives is Massachusetts, but in California. She is dating and eventually marries her husband. We also start to learn something is just not right with her father. Through an email to her and her brother, she comes to find out her father has Alzheimer’s Disease. This sets up the second half of the book which becomes a much more emotional story.

Alterman writes a poignant memoir about her and her parents. I knew nothing about her, when I started reading this, but at the end I almost felt like I made a friend. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and is not afraid to be honest with her audience. I definitely would love to read more from her in the future.

Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Sara Alterman's "Let's Never Talk About This Again," is equal parts cringe-worthy, funny and honest. Alterman is able to give an authentic voice for each era of her journey. Her discovery of her father's books as a young child, how they influenced her exploration of her own sexuality (and shame) and the duality of fear and reverence that comes with caring for an emotionally abusive parent is impressive. In each chapter I felt like I was right there with her. It is hard to pull off a memoir that offers just enough subtle hints to nod to an emotionally explosive house without calling it out directly. As a a reader I loved arriving at this revelation together.  Alterman is clever and earnest. I read this book in one sitting and savored the time I got to sit and listen to Alterman grow into the woman she is today.
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I laughed so hard and I cried so long. This book was so great! The writing was phenomenal and resonated with me, fir sure. I recommend this book for all your emotions.
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Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

This memoir was dark, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. The author writes about discovering her father’s hidden life as an author of erotic books. Reading this, you might think of the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno and assume the book would be similarly hilarious and cringeworthy. Although it had its hilarious, cringeworthy moments, it was definitely not the same. The author’s father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and the book takes us through his slow and sad decline. It actually left me feeling quite depressed and anxious about the future of my own parents. But despite that, it was beautifully written and well done. 4 stars.
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An equally heartbreaking and hilarious memoir about parents growing old, but with a new twist; Dad, in the throws of Alzheimer’s, has decided to revamp the old porn writing business! Enjoyable and relatable.
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I loved this! So well written, engaging, funny and sad. Made me feel lots of different emotions and one I will be recommending to friends.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir! It was an engaging read, funny at times, and endearing. Would definitely recommend.
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This book made me cry like a blubbering idiot.  Well written. Great book!

Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
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"Let's Never About This Again" is Sara Alterman's funny, engaging, sad, and honest memoir about her relationship with her father. She recounts her relationship with her father from the time she was young to his last moments alive.  She has a very unusual experience learning about sex, and for better or for worse, she avoids discussing this topic with her father until he benignly approaches Sara about it in his later years. Despite her father's sometimes poor temperament, Sara and Ira had an unbreakable bond that could be the envy of many. The book also offers a realistic portrayal of the havoc and heartbreak Alzheimers Disease and dementia inflict on a family. I definitely recommend this book!
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Thank you to #NetGalley, the author and publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review.  Let's Never Talk About This Again by Sarah Faith Alterman is a memoir that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page.   Sarah grew up in a seemingly normal home on the outskirts of Boston.  Seemingly is the key word here because when she was 12 she discovered a shelf of pornographic books written by her father.  Sarah keeps her discovery to herself and it is only later, when her father is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and asks her for help with reviving his career that the acknowledges the truth that she has known for years.  Just imagine if it is your father who wrote a book called Games You Can Play with Your Pussy, and we are not talking about a cat, or asks you for help writing a book called The Naughty Bride and it's about your own wedding.  Sarah's humor and compassion in dealing with her father's unorthodox books along with helping to care for a father who is ill while trying to start her own family on the opposite coast, resonate in this book.  It is well worth reading.
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