Father’s Day is coming up (check your calendars — you’re welcome), and with the pandemic keeping so many from visiting family, we’re feeling a little sentimental. So, we’re going to be looking at some dad- and father figure-related excerpts over the next few weeks!
Remember, we’re offering 20% off our Father’s Day collection with code DAD20, and free shipping on orders over $25!
Our first comes from the first chapter of Deni Béchard’s memoir, Cures for Hunger. While many of us may have done something at least a little wild with our fathers before, this memory may just take the cake.
Racing trains was one of my favorite adventures. This was what we were doing on the day I first considered that my father might have problems with the law.
“Forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine!”
My brother and I practiced counting as my father kept up with the train.
“I’ll push harder,” he shouted. He thrust his bearded chin forward and bugged out his eyes and jammed the accelerator to the floor. His green truck heaved along the road, outstripping the train whose tracks, just below the line of trees, skirted the incline.
Almost instantly we left the red engine behind. He swerved past the few cars we came up on with shouts of “Old goat!” The road straightened and leveled with the tracks, and he shifted gears and kept accelerating, though the train was far behind. Then he braked, holding my brother and me in place with his right arm, the air forced from my lungs as he spun the wheel with his free hand. We pulled onto the crossing, though the warning lights on both posts flashed and bells rang.
With the truck straddling the tracks, he switched the motor off. He relaxed in his seat, looking out the passenger window, straight along the railroad.
As if on a TV screen, the train appeared in the distance, plummeting toward us. The engine broke from the shadow of the trees. Sunlight struck its red paint, and my brother and I began to scream.
My father turned the ignition.
“Oh no! It’s not starting!” He was twisting the key but didn’t give the engine gas. We knew the ritual and shouted, “Give it gas!”
He gave it gas and the motor fired. The truck shook but didn’t move. The train engine was sounding its horn, filling up the tracks, its two dark, narrow windows glaring down at us.
The truck’s wheels screeched, and we lurched and shot onto the road.
The train rushed past behind us, its iron wheels thudding over the crossing.
“That was a close call!” my father shouted and laughed like a pirate. But the color had drained from my brother’s face. He turned to me, his eyes round as if to make me see just how close we’d come to being crushed. “We almost died,” he said and swallowed hard.
I looked from his pale expression to my father, whose wild bellowing filled the cab. My fear had passed, and the air I drew into my lungs felt more alive, charged as if with a sudden, mysterious joy. I couldn’t help but laugh with him.
Growing up in rural British Columbia, Deni Béchard worships his father, believing that he can do no wrong. Although his charismatic father is prone to racing trains and brawling, Deni has no idea how unusual his family is.
At once an extraordinary family story and an unconventional portrait of the artist as a young man, Cures for Hunger is a singular, deeply affecting memoir by an acclaimed writer.
Deni Ellis Béchard is a novelist, journalist, and photographer. He is the author of four books of non-fiction, including Cures for Hunger, recently released in trade paper, and three novels: Vandal Love, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book; Into the Sun, winner of the Midwest Book Award for literary fiction; and White.