ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This Sunday is Father's Day. And to mark the occasion, we have another edition of Three Books.
Here's CBS News correspondent and author, Jim Axelrod, with three books that illuminate the complicated relationship between a father and son.
Mr. JIM AXELROD (Correspondent, CBS News): In the eleven years since my father died, I've read just about anything I could get my hands on about fathers and sons. Envy for what I didn't have is balanced by gratitude for what I did.
James Dodson's "Final Rounds" stakes out envy. Dodson's dad was the kind of old man who called his son Sport. Nicknamed Opti for his relentless good cheer, Dodson's father is facing the end of an exceedingly well-lived life.
The author proposes one last golf trip for the two. His father, riddled with cancer, agrees to it. Dodson's deft touch and unflinching eye on the ravages of cancer keep this book from venturing near treacle. But that doesn't mean you won't feel the yearning to have been raised by an Opti yourself.
J.R Moehringer's "The Tender Bar" is a poignant examination of the other end of the spectrum, a touching consideration of a father's absence. Growing up on Long Island, his search for mentors, heroes, and role models leads him to a bar, Dickens, where he encounters a group of flawed but merry men whom Moehringer renders with warmth and texture as they teach him the manly arts.
Ultimately, Moehringer grows beyond the drinking life, discovering that liberation from the sadness of abandonment is beyond the power of a bottle, and of those pouring or sharing what's inside.
He wasn't just any father, writes Philip Roth in "Patrimony," he was the father, with everything there is to hate in a father, and everything there is to love.
At 86, Herman Roth begins to fail. In classic Roth style, the pivotal scene involves cleaning up after this father's compromised bowels. Once you sidestep disgust and ignore nausea, he writes, there's an awful lot of life to cherish. This is where so many of us would place our own feelings about our fathers.
My own father was a wonderful man. Overstretched, overburdened, but a wonderful man. I'm sure I'll spend the rest of my life writing about him as I try to figure him out. Thankfully, there will be no shortage of father-son books to provide a context for whatever I discover.
SIEGEL: Jim Axelrod is a national correspondent for CBS News and is the author of the book, "In The Long Run: A Father, A Son and Unintentional Lessons in Happiness."
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