Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Duke of Deception

By Geoffrey Wolff

Wolff's memoir of his experiences with his father, an unrepentant conman. And not only a conman, but a leech and an alcoholic and drug abuser. Altogether, Duke (his nickname) was a bad man, a man who even stole from his own son by charging items purchased at stores to his son's account without the son's permission or knowledge.
It's not like Duke didn't know better. His father was a respectable and well-off doctor and Duke was educated in private schools. But perhaps that is where the fault lies, as it appears that Duke was given pretty much anything he asked for as a child. As a result, he grew up thinking he was entitled, whether he deserved it or not. Indeed, Duke deserved the things he wanted because he wanted them. At least that's how it seemed to me. Probably it is not that simple. But I also think he got a kind of childish delight out of cheating, of getting something for nothing.
Yet Wolff has fond memories of his father, despite the occasional outburst of abuse during one of Duke's alcoholic binges. Indeed, it seemed to me, that Wolff had more resentment towards his mother, who cheated on his father, something a little boy found hard to understand. The Wolffs had a troubled marriage, what with Duke's unfaithfulness and unreliability and the mother's admitted lack of love for her husband. Raised in such a climate, it is not surprising that Wolff started down the same road as his father, lying, cheating, drinking, spending money he didn't have and skipping classes. But somehow, Wolff saw the road he was headed down and took another path.

Duke's father is a really creepy guy, repulsive and reprehensible. Wolff has some kind words to say about the man, but from reading this story, it is hard to understand why. But, even though I came away from it despising everything about the man, I still liked reading about him. Gives one a new appreciation for your own parents.

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