The Stuff of Life: A Daughter's Memoir (Hardcover)

A Daughter's Memoir

By Karen Karbo

Bloomsbury USA, 9781582341835, 256pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2003



As a generation of baby boomers faces the aging of their parents, Karen Karbo's resonant new memoir tells the intimate story of one stoic father and wiseacre grown-up daughter navigating the last months of his life.

When Karen Karbo's father, a charming, taciturn Clint Eastwood type who lives in a triple-wide in the Nevada desert, is diagnosed with lung cancer, his only daughter rises to the challenge of caring for him. Neither of them is exactly cut out for the job. Karen is a Doc Marten-sporting freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon, the primary breadwinner for a slightly chaotic blended family of five, who has always steered clear of the "helping professions." Dick Karbo, a retired industrial designer and card-carrying member of the NRA, is an equally reluctant patient. As Dick's disease progresses, Karen finds herself sometimes the responsible adult, sometimes a stubborn teenager all over again, by turns grief-stricken, rebellious, and amused by the grim ironies of the situation. In the end what father and daughter discover more than anything is the love and the toughness that makes them alike.

Sensitive and ruefully funny, "The Stuff of Life" invites you into a family as complicated and real as your own, capturing a moment filled with all the sadness and warmth of adult life.

About the Author

Karen Karbo is the author of three novels, each a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the nonfiction book Generation Ex: Tales from the Second Wives Club. Her writing has appeared in Vogue, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, the New Republic, and the New York Times, among other publications.