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Parents' Day - SAVE 50%!

Parents' Day - SAVE 50%!

by Paul Goodman
Illustrated by Percival Goodman
Afterword by Taylor Stoehr

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Product Details

Black Sparrow Press

ISBN: 978-0-87685-634-5
Pages: 272
Size: 6.26" x 9.14"
Published: December 1984
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Like Goodman's Empire City, Parents' Day is the story of a young man in search of community, but the author's model here is not Cervantes, Brecht, or Rousseau but rather the Hawthorne of The Blithedale Romance. The nameless narrator of this notorious novel, first published privately in 1951 in an edition of five hundred copies, finds employment as a teacher in an idealistic, forward-thinking boys' school. As in Blithedale, the health of the group is the One Great Good, and that good is threatened at every turn by love between individuals. The narrator breaks the unwritten law of the group when he has a romantic affair—not with a fellow teacher, but worse: with a student. Once the narrator gives in to forbidden love, his sense of community grows dim, and in its place appears a vivid paranoid fantasy that the authorities are on his trail—as they will be, soon enough. What perversity is this that a man can yearn for the extinguishing of his self in perfect communion with others and yet, once he finds such perfect communion, can also yearn for expulsion from the group through acting on selfish desire?

Taylor Stoehr, in his brilliant afterword, says: "It is half the lesson of growing up that, apart from the world of damaged characters doing their best and their worst, there is no society, no community. Life is what it is. The other half of the lesson of growing up is that, just as there is no community apart from the society that we all inhabit, so there is no key, no solution, to the problem of one's own nature and fate." The great problem for Goodman's narrator is that, for all of his longing for community, his chosen community will not have him, not on his own terms—and he will accept no others. This is a life-problem worthy of exploration by a latter-day Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman was born in New York and educated at City College. Rather than taking a job after graduation, he chose to live with his sister and pursue a literary life among Manhattan's burgeoning bohemian scene. He spent the thirties and forties writing novels and short stories and teaching at a variety of progressive institutions, including Manumit School and Black Mountain College. While his fiction was well-received, Goodman is now best remembered for his works of social criticism, especially the groundbreaking Growing up Absurd, and of anarchist philosophy. He was also a lay therapist and a co-founder of the experimental Gestalt method of psychotherapy. Goodman died in New Hampshire in 1972, leaving behind dozens of works of fiction and nonfiction.

Percival Goodman
Percival Goodman, brother of the writer and social critic Paul Goodman, was born in New York and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris on a scholarship from the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects. He became well-known as an architect of modern synagogues, especially B'nai Israel in New Jersey, which has been called "a revolutionary moment in American synagogue design." In addition to designing dozens of important buildings, writing several texts on urban planning, and illustrating his brother's works, Goodman taught at the Columbia University architecture school for over twenty-five years.

Taylor Stoehr
Taylor Stoehr was the literary executor of George Dennison and Paul Goodman and edited many of their volumes, along with writing six of his own books on culture and literary criticism. Stoehr was also a longtime professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and helped found the Dorchester District Court program for Changing Lives Through Literature.