REVIEW: As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling by Anne Serling

In her poignant memoir/tribute to her late father, Anne Serling brings this sense of loss home in a very powerful, personal way. Demonstrating the old adage that “the apple...

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling

by Anne Serling

May 2013

Citadel Press Books

285 pages; hardcover; $25.00

ISBN: 978-0-8065-3615-6

 

My Dad as I Knew HimWith the death of the brilliant Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez, the recent sharp loss of storytellers in the post-modern era zooms into focus: Just as Bradbury, Matheson, and Márquez, Serling was one of those rare talents able to transmogrify the ordinary into the sublime, the mundane into the magical. Of course, enamored as we are by their gifts—and as unwittingly influenced by their insights as we doubtless become—it is sometimes hard to believe that there was once a world before they came along… Collectively, we are always shocked when the reality of their death brings home to us the fact that they are, after all, human, with all of the fragility, dignity, embarrassment, beauty, horror and other emotions that appellation implies.

In her poignant memoir/tribute to her late father, Anne Serling brings this sense of loss home in a very powerful, personal way. Demonstrating the old adage that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” we are shown through her moving and lyrical prose what we have always suspected about the dapper man in the suit with the clipped voice from the original Twilight Zone series—that not only was he a superlative talent, a giant of television with a big heart and social conscience, but also a loving husband, caring parent, and deeply introspective soul.

Some of the most revealing aspects of the book are her intimate revelations from Serling’s letters home to his parent during his time in the Pacific Theater in World War II. In these, there is little evidence of the talent or drive that would come bursting out of him through the new medium of television in just a few short years.

Throughout the book, readers are treated to a generous number of family photos and images of the letters penned by Serling as a young man. These underscore the wistful nature, as well as the playful side, of Serling, allowing one to consider not only his artistic legacy in a new context, but the very personal nature of Ms. Serling’s memoir. This is a book about an artistic genius, yes, part biography, part tribute, part historical overview, but, in addition, it is an “autobiographical biography” replete with stirring reflections, thoughtful reminiscences, and soul-baring grief. This is also catharsis for a devoted daughter who venerated a kind, loving father, and who has been able to harness her obvious literary skills and sharp critical insights into a lasting testimony that reaches far beyond celebrity and enters itself into another dimension.

Highest recommendation.

 

 

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JASON V BROCK is an award-winning writer, editor, filmmaker, composer, and artist, and has been widely-published online, in comic books, magazines, and anthologies, such as QUALIA NOUS, DISORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (nonfiction collection), SIMULACRUM AND OTHER POSSIBLE REALITIES (fiction/poetry collection), FUNGI, WEIRD FICTION REVIEW, FANGORIA, S. T. Joshi's BLACK WINGS series, and many others. He was Art Director/Managing Editor of DARK DISCOVERIES magazine for more than four years, and publishes a pro journal called [NAMELESS], which can be found on Twitter: @NAMELESSMAG, and on the Interwebs at HTTP://WWW.NAMELESSDIGEST.COM. He and his wife, Sunni, also run Cycatrix Press (books include A DARKE PHANTASTIQUE, and THE BLEEDING EDGE, to name just two), and have a technology consulting business. As a filmmaker, his work includes the critically-acclaimed documentaries CHARLES BEAUMONT: THE LIFE OF TWILIGHT ZONE'S MAGIC MAN, THE ACKERMONSTER CHRONICLES! (winner of the 2014 Rondo Hatton Award for Best Documentary), and IMAGE, REFLECTION, SHADOW: ARTISTS OF THE FANTASTIC. He is the primary composer and instrumentalist/singer for his band, CHIAROSCURO. Brock loves his wife, their family of reptiles/amphibians, travel, and vegan/vegetarianism. He is active on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter (@JASUNNI_JASONVB), and their personal website/blog, HTTP://WWW.JASUNNI.COM.
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