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Let's Never Talk About This Again: A Memoir

Review

Let's Never Talk About This Again: A Memoir

Sara Faith Alterman grew up in the 1980s in the kind of family that never swore or made rude jokes. Her father, Ira, would leap out of the chair to turn off the television if anything even close to a sex scene cropped up, and the closest they ever came to “the talk” was when a teenaged Sara had an ovarian cyst and he had to explain the diagnosis to her. He loved terrible puns, wordplay of all sorts and doing the crossword puzzle. So imagine Sara’s surprise when, as a relatively young girl, she discovered a cache of humorous sex books --- written by her father, with bawdy cartoon illustrations by one of his best friends.

When Sara first found the books, she was too young to really understand their double entendres. As she entered adolescence, however, she used them as how-to manuals for her relationship with her own first boyfriend. Years passed, and Sara never discussed the books with Ira, or with anyone else in her family --- until her father, now in his early 60s, lost his job in executive education.

"I don’t read many memoirs, but when I do, I’m looking for ones like Alterman’s: a true story that offers hilarious anecdotes and insights but also addresses difficult topics with the same honesty and candor."

Sara --- who by this time was living with her husband in San Francisco, across the country from her parents’ Massachusetts home --- wanted to help and was drawn into her father’s increasingly frustrating job search. As she helped him navigate Monster.com and improve his LinkedIn profile, she gradually began to suspect that there was something a little off about him, more than could be explained by depression or advancing age. He seemed confused by computers and by the internet in particular, incapable of performing simple search functions that once would have been easy for him.

And then, when Ira decided to revive his writing and publishing business as a way to earn some money, Sara knew something was off-kilter for sure. Why would her dad, who had never even joked about sex in front of her before, be sending her manuscript pages from his latest work, Sex After 40, for her to edit? As Sara and the rest of her family began to suspect that Ira suffered from dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, Sara realized that offering to help him --- no matter how uncomfortable it might make her --- could be a last opportunity for them to work together and to understand one another as fellow adults, not just as parent and child.

Alterman, who is one of the producers of the podcast and live show “Mortified,” excels at telling cringeworthy stories of her youth and young adulthood --- stories that don’t flinch even as they touch on deeply uncomfortable topics and themes. She also, courageously, acknowledges her own failings in dealing with her father during his rapid decline and eventual death, and her regrets over how she failed to support her mother in her own grief.

I don’t read many memoirs, but when I do, I’m looking for ones like Alterman’s: a true story that offers hilarious anecdotes and insights but also addresses difficult topics with the same honesty and candor. Alterman’s voice is funny, irreverent and full of love for her father, and readers are unlikely to come away without a deep fondness for them and their entire family.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 31, 2020

Let's Never Talk About This Again: A Memoir
by Sara Faith Alterman

  • Publication Date: July 28, 2020
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538748673
  • ISBN-13: 9781538748671