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The Home Stretch: A Father, a Son, and All the Things They Never Talk About

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4.54  ·  Rating details ·  13 ratings  ·  10 reviews
George K. Ilsley explores his complex relationship with his aging father in this candid memoir full of sharp emotion and disarming humor. George's father is ninety-one years old, a widower, and fiercely independent; an avid gardener, he's sweet and more than a little eccentric. But he's also a hoarder who makes embarrassing comments and invitations to women, and he has mad ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2020 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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George K. Ilsley
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This book grew out of several visits I made to see my father, when he was in his 90s and living in a small town in Nova Scotia.

The result, I hope, is funny, sad, and true. It's as true as I could make it.

The front cover blurb says, "Life-giving and bracingly honest" (from David Chariandy, author of Brother).
Andy Quan
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You wouldn't think, necessarily, that a book about a son, visiting his father in his 90s, to take care of him, to give his brother a break from caring duties, and finally to say goodbye, would be a page-turner. But it is. Around these visits, Ilsley lets a larger story unfold, about families and secrets, about a complex relationship between father and son, about the mysteries of ageing, memory and affection.

It is a palimpsest, a story about eccentric people with tales unique to them layered on
...more
Barb
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir about Ilsley’s father’s last years from age 91-96. It is about a stubborn, forgetful and cantankerous old man who resists every attempt by his sons and caregivers to improve his living situation. Written with humor, charm and searing honesty, it would be worth reading for the peanuts alone.
Kate
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Dad occupies a hazy zone, an in-between state. He is post-adult entering his second childhood, and neither competent nor incompetent. We try to help, and he pushes us back every step of the way. Everything we try to do, he makes harder."

Thoughts~
This memoir really resonated with me in a lot of ways. Having been through the decline and loss of both my grandfather's, one quite recently, I felt Ilsleys struggles. As they got into their 90's my grandfather's started to show different sides of them
...more
Rebecca Reel
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
When I began reading this memoir, I wondered if it was going to be gloomy. But what unfolded was a masterpiece. Vibrant dialogue. Often funny, it has perfect pace. During a year when I can’t concentrate on anything, I kept opening this book to read “just one more chapter.” The setting, descriptions of people, and their interactions were totally engrossing.

This memoir walks a tightrope successfully. It looks back without nostalgia, without self pity. He discusses aging without being a downer. How
...more
Darlene Messenger
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I was invited to read this book, for review, by Arsenal Pulp Press Canada. I had read recently a similar biography and they felt this book would be one I would enjoy reading. They were right. The son, George, writes of his childhood with a father who is not always gentle or kind and the aging process that his father is now deeply rejecting. His telling of the times of forgetting, the humiliating quirks and repetive behaviors, the struggle to be fully there in body and spirit as his father slips ...more
Dicey100
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review of George K. Ilsley’s memoir “The Home Stretch”

Twice a year, for the last five years of his father’s life, George K. Ilsley travelled from his home in Vancouver to visit his aging father in rural Nova Scotia. “The Home Stretch” engages the reader immediately in the yin and yang aspects of “going home.” Ilsley writes with great candor, a self-deprecating humor and possesses a phenomenal grasp of human nature. His book checks every box in my wheelhouse: it deals with the dynamics of inter-p
...more
Sharon Sletten
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. A phenomenal story of a son and father's relationship during the aging process. I laughed, I cried and felt frustrated at the injustice that some in society treat the elderly but thankfully there are caregivers to help.Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to read this. I recommend that others read and enjoy. I have lived in long-term care since 2011 and I witnessed a lot of residents with their families go through some of ...more
Katherine Pederson
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I was delighted to be asked by Arsenal Pulp Press to review this book. Thank you for sending me a copy!
I had to start the book a few times before I got engaged in it. I found the writing to be quite dry in places. From the title I was expecting more reconciliation between father and son, and I definitely wanted to know more about George's current life...it would have made me understand him better. The ending was very powerful for me.
While I wasn't blown away by the writers style, I had to remind
...more
Kathlyn
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading about Ilsley’s journey to discover more about his relationship with his aging father felt real and a little too familiar. The things that frighten us about our past are amplified when we can see the sand is running low in the hourglass. Ilsley’s courage and perseverance to heal the wounds and rashes accumulated over a lifetime, is inspiring. His descriptions of rural life and small town accommodations are heartwarming. A good read during these isolated times.
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"The Home Stretch: A Father, a Son, and All The Things They Never Talk About," a book about my relationship with my father when he was in his 90s, is now available from Arsenal Pulp Press. This book includes "Bingo and Black Ice" which was the winner of the 2014 Lush Triumphant Literary Award for creative non-fiction.

(Somehow, I also won the same award in 2015 for fiction.)

Author of the novel ManB
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