AS I KNEW HIM: MY DAD, ROD SERLING is that rare hybrid of a book that succeeds magnificently as both memoir and biography. Because Anne Serling gives us not just an utterly human story of her own close relationship with her father, but also perhaps the most revealing and, again, oh-so-human portrait yet written of her dad as both a man and an extremely gifted writer and student of the human condition, who fought his whole life against racism and bigotry, and this was often reflected in his writing. Anne Serling's book is filled with the wit, wisdom and humor of her father, both from his TV and movie scripts, and from family anecdotes and stories that she shares. We also get a very close and detailed look at his childhood and adolescence, his WWII service as a paratrooper, his college years at Antioch College, where he met his wife, Carol. And then his rapid rise into the top tier of TV and film writers. I found myself constantly dog-earing pages of Serling sayings and bits and pieces from his hundreds of scripts. But I've decided not to share them here. Because, if you were a fan of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, as I was, then you know just how effective he was as a dramatist. Serling was only fifty when he died of heart problems, but man, did he pack a lot of living into those fifty years. A workaholic of sorts, he left a lasting legacy - in all those TV shows and screenplays, and also, I suspect, in the students he taught at various colleges later in his career. But I think what affected me the most deeply was Anne's own story of the devastating grief and sense of loss she felt at losing her father. She was just twenty when he died, and it took her years to get over it - if indeed you ever do get over that kind of personal loss. The final chapters are wrenchingly sad, and will most certainly hit home with anyone who has lost a beloved parent, whether they were twenty or seventy when it happened. I was sixty-nine when my mother died, at 96. I wept at reading of Anne's difficulties in coping with this grievous loss. It's never easy. Serling bore scars, both physical and psychological, from the war, and I thought often of the many books, both fiction and memoir, currently coming out of today's wars as I read of his early attempts at writing, especially when he said - "I was bitter about everything and at loose ends when I got out of the service. I think I turned to writing to get it off my chest ... Shrapnel wounds and mangled, bullet ridden bodies are not the only casualties of war. There are casualties of the mind. Every war produces a backwash, a residue of pain and grief." AS I KNEW HIM is, quite simply, a beautiful book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Bravo, Ms. Serling. Your dad would be so proud. - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
As I Knew Him : My Dad, Rod Serling
About This Item
To Anne Serling, the imposing figure the public saw hosting The Twilight Zone each week, intoning cautionary observations about fate, chance, and humanity, was not the father she knew. Her fun-loving dad would play on the floor with the dogs, had nicknames for everyone in the family, and was apt to put a lampshade on his head and break out in song. He was her best friend, her playmate, and her confidant.
After his unexpected death at 50, Anne, just 20, was left stunned. Gradually, she found solace for her grief by talking to his friends, poring over old correspondence, and recording her childhood memories. Now she shares personal photos, eloquent, revealing letters, and beautifully rendered scenes of his childhood, war years, and their family's time together. Idyllic summers in upstate New York, the years in Los Angeles, and the myriad ways he filled their time with laughter, strength, and endearing silliness--all are captured here with deep affection and candor.
Though begun in loss, Anne's story is a celebration of her extraordinary relationship with her father and the qualities she came to prize through him--empathy, kindness, and an uncompromising sense of social justice. As I Knew Him is a lyrical, intimate tribute to Rod Serling's legacy as visionary, storyteller, and humanist, and a moving testament to the love between fathers and daughters.
"I was so moved by Anne Serling's account of the loving relationship she had with her dad, I laughed and I cried. I plan to read it again once I catch my breath. This beautifully written book is proof that the apple didn't fall too far from the tree when it came to the writing gene." --Carol Burnett
"It was my privilege to know Rod Serling. He was as interesting off screen as on. I loved Rod Serling. Still do." --Betty White
"Thanks to Anne Serling's haunting and beautifully written memoir about her father, readers will come to know Rod Serling in a personal way, as I did." --Robert Redford
"A loving daughter's intimate memoir and portrait of her father, a man who just happens to be one of the most important American cultural leaders of the 20th Century . . . the best glimpse we're likely to get of that man and the maelstrom he moved in unless or until we venture into the Twilight Zone." -- James Grady
"A memoir filled with intimate details and emotion; a tender, thoughtful and very personal portrait of American genius Rod Serling, writer and creator of the greatest show ever made, The Twilight Zone." --- Alice Hoffman
"A richly told, deeply sympathetic journey into the mind of one of the masters of television, this haunting memoir is also about grief, creativity, and a father-daughter bond as memorable and magical as any Twilight Zone episode." --Caroline Leavitt
Kensington Publishing Corporation, Citadel Press
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