Ada Calhoun, Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me
Grove Press, June 14
One day, quite by accident, art critic Peter Schjeldahl’s daughter Ada Calhoun comes across recordings of her father’s interview with poet Frank O’Hara’s colleagues—cassettes he made as he prepared to write an authorized biography of the poet in the late 1970s. But as support was withdrawn by the poet’s sister and literary executor, the project was never finished. Calhoun believes she can resurrect the work, but in this woven memoir-biography-familial history, she does much more than that.
While Calhoun connects with her father through their mutual adoration of O’Hara, it’s after Schjeldahl’s lung cancer diagnosis that the book shifts to examine, and understand, the relationship between father and daughter most clearly: “Maybe what I’m figuring out is that the book I was meant to write was never a book about O’Hara—or even really about my father. It was about me.” A beautiful book in what feels like a brand new genre. –Emily Firetog, deputy editor