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Phantom Father, The: A Memoir

Gifford, Barry

29 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0151002509 / ISBN 13: 9780151002504
Published by Harcourt Brace & Company, New York, 1997
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

257 pages. Hardcover with dust jacket. SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY AUTHOR "To James, No longer a phantom - Best Always, Barry Gifford" Light fading to covers on top, edgewear to dust jacket, corners lightly bumped. Record # 468797. Bookseller Inventory # 468797

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Phantom Father, The: A Memoir

Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company, New York

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Ruby Wilson, Barry Gifford's father, ran an all night liquor store/drugstore in Chicago, next door to the Club Alabama, where Barry used to watch showgirls rehearse on Saturday afternoons. Some mornings he ate breakfast at the small lunch counter in the store, dunking doughnuts with the organ-grinders' monkey. Other times he rode with his father to small towns in Illinois, where Ruby would meet someone while Barry waited for him in a diner. Everybody who was anybody in Chicago in the 30s, 40s, and 50s knew Barry Winston. Ruby Winston separated from Barry's mother when Barry was eight, married agaid (as did his mother), and died when Barry was twelve, leaving behind an elusive but powerful imprint, a constant, translucent presence. The Phantom Father explores the many sides of his unique bounty that remain in Barry Gifford's life-the allure and excitement of his father's world, the mystery he left in Barry's life, and the yearning to understand what he left behind. When Barry was a teenager, a friend of his asked, "Your father was a killer, wasn't he?" There is no easy answer to that question. Ruby Winston was a good man to know, and sometimes a dangerous man to know, but he was always a fascinating man to know.

Review:

Barry Gifford's father, Rudy Winston, was considered a "good man to know" in the wild and woolly Chicago of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. His list of friends and acquaintances included everyone from the mayor of Chicago and actress Dorothy Lamour to characters with monikers like Willie "the Hero" Nero and Arnold "Suitcase Solly" Banks. To his son, however, he was practically a stranger. Rudy Winston died when Barry Gifford was 12 years old, and Phantom Father is Gifford's reconstruction of a time and a man he never really knew.

Rudy Winston was born in Vienna and moved to the United States when he was 8 years old. As an adult, he ran a combination liquor store and drugstore that doubled as a drop-off point for stolen goods, drugs, and other contraband. Although his family was based in Chicago, he had places in Miami, New York, and Acapulco, and it was widely rumored that he performed the occasional hit for his gangster friends. Even before his death in 1958, Rudy had been something of a phantom in his son's life. According to Gifford's grandmother, his father didn't even speak to him until he was 5 years old; then Rudy walked out on the family when Barry was 8. Much of the material here that deals with Rudy Winston first appeared in Gifford's earlier book, A Good Man to Know. What sets The Phantom Father apart are the unsentimental portraits of family members, family friends, and the various odd characters who passed through Barry Gifford's childhood.

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We have an open shop. Hours are: 9AM to 6PM Monday-Saturday and 11AM to 6 PM Sundays. The shop is located at 1485 Route 7 North, 2 miles north of downtown Middlebury, VT. We are located at Paquette self-storage across from Euclide Quenell Farm (It's Vermont!) and have over 150,000 books. Some have said we're the best used book store in the State and Book Lover's Guide has listed us as a "must see." So if you're out our way, please stop in.(When weather VERY bad, please call ahead. We do close during snow storms, etc.)

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Monroe Street Books. Owners: Richard and Flanzy Chodkowski. Mailing address: Monroe Street Books, 70 Monroe Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Store Located at: 1485 Route 7 North, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Phone: 1-802-398-2200 Email: books@monroestreetbooks.com
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