Every morning, 30-year-old Sydney Thomsen reminds her father, Craig, that she is his daughter. She's traveled across the country from Nevada to spend time with him for the first time in 23 years, trying to get to know the dad who glows golden in her memory. No easy task
with a man with short-term memory loss from drug and alcohol abuse. "It's like a record skipping," he says. And Syd sees what he means as he remembers the name of their first dog when they were hippies in the Nevada desert but not what happened when the boat he claimed
squatters' rights to burned to ash in the Atlantic. He remembers showing Syd around the gold mine where he worked but not why he left the family without a word. (surely an event 23 years in the past doesn't still qualify as short term memory loss)
Away from home, away from her husband of 10 years (whom she has just told she is pregnant), Syd tries connecting with her dad while meeting vaguely remembered aunts and uncles. Southern relatives, as foreign as the humidity draping everything in Florida, tell her stories that don't fit what she heard growing up. Her dad is at once the beautiful myth and a haggard old man she still recognizes. As she struggles to match up all the versions of a man who is now practically a blank slate, she finds herself questioning her own history and the fidelity
of her own memory.
Why is she there? For the first time in 23 years she's there, but you don't say why. That's the precipitating event that can catch and hold our interest. There are an increasing number of books in this realm, specifically Karen Karbo's memoir of her father The Stuff of Life and Jodi Varon's exquisite Drawing to an Inside Straight
This kind of literary meditation doesn't lend itself to a hair on fire hook, but you still have to give us a sense of plot and conflict.