The mother and father who raised Bob Brody were profoundly deaf. To compensate, his Nanna spoiled him silly, both for good and for ill. His boyhood education in the suburbs of New Jersey largely took the form of playing sports with his friends. Then, five weeks after he moved into New York City as a new college graduate, a drug addict stabbed him in the chest. Overall, his destiny appeared in doubt.
So go the opening pages of Playing Catch with Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes of Age. But soon everything changed dramatically. Bob met the love of his life, a cute Italian girl from Brooklyn, after almost blowing his first date with her thanks to a drunken remark. They married and start to raise a son and daughter, only for something unprecedented – and unexpected – to happen.
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Slowly Bob discovered that the world consisted of people other than himself, with needs and interests, in fact, other than his. Shocking! He stopped resisting responsibility with all his being and developed, around age 35, what eventually passed for an operative work ethic. He even took the leap, after freelancing for 10 years, of becoming gainfully employed again. He showed signs, against all odds and certainly long overdue, of finally resembling an adult.
Brody, whose personal essays about family and friends have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic and many other publications, here chronicles – and celebrates – how he reinvented himself as that most miraculous of creatures, a true family guy from head to toe. “A gem,” said former CBS anchor Dan Rather. “Winning,” said Goodfellas author Nicholas Pileggi said. “Poignant,” said Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art Of The Personal Essay. “A delight to read,” said former Spin editor Bob Guccione Jr.