March 20, 2007

Caitlin Flanagan's father

The witty prose stylist who writes about housewifery for The Atlantic and The New Yorker often mentions her mother, but gives few details about her father, other than that he was a writer. Some poking around on Google reveals that he was the late Thomas Flanagan, author of the grand 1979 bestseller The Year of the French, the famous historical novel about the doomed 1798 Irish rebellion that was assisted by a French army dispatched by Revolutionary Paris.

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Anonymous said...

Why? She seems like such a sensible persona in her prose. Is she trying to disown her father? Did he behave inappropriately with her mom, her classmates, her? The kind of gossip I'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps she doesn't want to trade on her father's name but achieve on her own.

John of London said...

Never heard of Caitlin, but I'm sorry to learn the great novelist Thomas Flanagan is dead. I thought "The Tenants of Time" about the Fenian period was even better than YOTF. Maybe the best historical novel about Ireland ever, certainly v convincing on how it must have felt and the emerging and declining classes c 1860 - 1890. "The Heel of the Hunt" is also pretty good.

James Kabala said...

Anonymous 2 is probably more right than Anonymous 1. Part of her persona is also to imply she had a typical middle-class upbringing; revealing a well-known writer father would upset this image.
Also, so much of her stuff is about mother-daughter relationships, I think the father just gets left out. Of many siblings does she have, and what are their sexes? What does her husband do for a living? I'm sure she may have answered these questions at some point, but they certainly aren't recurring themes in her writing.

Steve Sailer said...

Caitlin won't reveal her husband's name. He's a business executive. They live in very classy Hancock Park, the old money neighborhood in LA.

She has a sister in Santa Barbara.

She used to be an English teacher and college counselor at Harvard-Westlake, the most exclusive LA prep school, where she worked with Christina Schwarz, wife of Benjamin Schwarz, the literary editor of The Atlantic, so that's how she started writing in her late 30s.

Her father was chairman of the English Dept. at Berkeley before moving to Binghampton to take a lower level job that would give him more time to write.

Steve Sailer said...

There's nothing too mysterious about Caitlin Flanagan writing primarily about her mother rather than her father. I imagine she subscribes to to old idea that "Behind every great man is a great woman." Her father's memory will live on his outstanding novels, but only she can publicly memorialize her mother, whom she loved and admired.

We're not used to people writing about a happy, functional family, so it's natural to assume that if she covers up something about her father, it must be scandalous, but, instead, it appears that she's just covering up more happy functionality!

joshrandall said...

I am suspicious of women who go on too much about their mothers. It sounds like there may be parental "issues". Beware the woman who doesnt love her father. I have read Caitlin occasionally;now I'll read her stuff with a more "jaundiced" eye. (Which can be painful!)