Just Once, No More: On Fathers, Sons, and Who We Are Until We Are No Longer (Hardcover)

Just Once, No More: On Fathers, Sons, and Who We Are Until We Are No Longer By Charles Foran Cover Image

Just Once, No More: On Fathers, Sons, and Who We Are Until We Are No Longer (Hardcover)


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In his poignant memoir, Charles Foran presents a portrait of his gruff-but-fond father wrestling with the end of life as Charlie acts as witness, solace, and would-be guide while facing his own mortality. What story can we tell ourselves and those we love, this radiant book asks, to withstand the inevitable mutability of time and self? A powerful meditation on fathers and sons, love and loss, and what it means to be alive "just once, no more."

Dave Foran was a formidable man of few words, from a different era than his sensitive, literary son, Charlie. As a younger person, Dave had lived alone for months in the bush, overcome snow blindness, hauled a dead body across a frozen lake on a dogsled, dodged bullets in a bar, and gone toe-to-toe with a bear. Some aspects of his life were rollicking while others were more restrained: A decent father and a devoted husband, Dave was also emotionally distant, prone to laconic cynicism and a changeable mood. As Charlie writes: “He struggled most days of his life with wounds he could not readily identify, let alone heal."

The year Charlie turned 55, his 83-year-old father began a slow, final decline, and Charlie surprised himself by wanting to write about their relationship. On the surface, his motiavation was to reassure his father that he was loved. But there was also a deeper desire at work. “Late into the middle of my own lifespan,” Charlie writes, “sadness took hold of my being . . . I wanted to say so frankly, never mind how uncomfortable it made me.”

In spare, haunting prose, Just Once, No More pulls on these delicate threads—unravelling a fascinating personal story and revealing its poignant universality.
CHARLES FORAN has published twelve books. He has won awards for his fiction, nonfiction and journalism, including the Hilary Weston Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in Toronto.

Product Details ISBN: 9781039001053
ISBN-10: 103900105X
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Publication Date: April 11th, 2023
Pages: 200
Language: English
“A meditative rumination on issues of mortality, family, and what it means to be alive in the world. . . . [Just Once, No More is] a series of lyrical musings . . . that cumulatively comprise an emotional cartography of the author’s developing understanding of how to exist in a body among other bodies, both human and animal. . . . The payoff is being in the presence of a supple, inquisitive mind . . . through the vicissitudes of human existence.” —Toronto Star

"A beautiful elegy on the aches of an aging heart. Sad, yes, but in a luminous way, like a flickering, crackling vintage lightbulb. Truly, a book that is wise and moving." —Yann Martel

“Charles Foran, at his dying father’s bedside, traces the giant, altering moments and the end-of-day tender ones that shape them both. This is an eyes-open memoir about how we fly apart and come together; about the fierce and gentle hold of fatherhood; about the ways art can make meaning; about love, sadness, and the ties that bind. Elegiac, intimate and honest, this is a beautiful, tender book, so spare and lovely, so full of little diamonds of truth.” —Lisa Moore