Excerpts from the novel by Andrew Solomon
Listen to Author Andrew Solomon Read Chapter 1 and Chapter 3:
An excerpt from Chapter One: Son
There is no such thing as reproduction. When two people decide to have a baby, they engage in an act of production, and the widespread use of the word reproduction for this activity, with its implication that two people are but braiding themselves together, is at best a euphemism to comfort prospective parents before they get in over their heads. In the subconscious fantasies that make conception look so alluring, it is often ourselves that we would like to see live forever, not someone with a personality of his own. Having anticipated the onward march of our selfish genes, many of us are unprepared for children who present unfamiliar needs. Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger, and the more alien the stranger, the stronger the whiff of negativity. We depend on the guarantee in our children’s faces that we will not die. Children whose defining quality annihilates that fantasy of immortality are a particular insult; we must love them for themselves, and not for the best of ourselves in them, and that is a great deal harder to do. Loving our own children is an exercise for the imagination. Click here to continue reading Chapter 1.
An excerpt from Chapter Three: Dwarfs
When Clinton Brown III was born, his father, Clinton Sr., remembered, “I could see right away his arms were straight out, his legs were straight out, and his body was small. I almost fainted.” A curtain blocked the view for Clinton’s mother, Cheryl, but it did not block her hearing; the baby didn’t cry, and none of the doctors or nurses said anything. When Cheryl cried out, “What’s wrong?” one of the doctors replied in a hushed voice, “We have a problem here.” Although Cheryl wanted to see and hold her baby, he was whisked away. Later, a doctor explained that her son was terribly deformed and likely to die, the result of diastrophic dysplasia. Such profoundly affected children are usually institutionalized, he said, and offered to handle Clinton’s placement without her involvement, since it was sometimes easier for parents to give up a child they’d never seen. Cheryl was indignant. “That’s my baby,” she said. “I want to see my baby.” The doctors were vague about prognosis; only a few thousand people in the world were known to have diastrophic dwarfism. “The information they had on it was two paragraphs,” Cheryl recalled. “Two paragraphs on what the rest of our lives were going to be.” Click here to continue reading Chapter 3.
Excerpted from FAR FROM THE TREE: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Solomon. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.