After reading Victoria Fryer’s “Father, Father, Holy Ghost” on Littlefiction.com, I tried to think about what made it such a strong piece. The title for one speaks to the many figurative meanings at work here. The father, can relate either to the narrator’s father, the narrator’s grandfather, or as an allusion to a higher power, the Christian manifestation of god, who is sometimes referred to as “The Father.” The narrator is someone who has been seeking answers her whole life, as prefaced by the reference to watching Unsolved Mysteries as a kid, in hopes of there being “a mystery solved, an answer finally granted.”
What speaks to the substance of the piece is the narrator’s unending search for her biological father. He is such an absent figure in her life, that as a child, she comes to question how she even knows the word “dad.” The problem lies not only in his absence, but that there are little traces of him around. Although being given up by her father and mother at birth, she does not go through an adoption agency, orphanage, or foster home; she is taken in by her grandparents. She finds a family tree of her father’s side of the family that is empty and only leads to more confusion with branches that lead to nowhere and no answers granted. As she grows older, she re-establishes connection with her mother, and comes to find out that she has been in contact with him. Again she is left to her imagination, as she is not able to directly speak with him, nor does he grant her request of sending a picture of himself. I believe the intention to include this was to draw a parallel as to how this story is relatable to religion, the idea of faith being the thing that gives power to your doubts and gives reason to the injustices done to you. In part, her lack of trust in an “almighty father” stems from the fact that she was so heavily disappointed in her own father.
Fryer effectively uses an informal style of writing, both to play on the feeling of being a child and having a child’s like view on the frustration and disappointment in trying, but failing to have a meaningful connection to the people that brought her into the world. Fryer uses a mixed-perspective at times, with insertions such as an introspective question addressed to the reader saying “Who could say no to that?” on the subject of “being saved” (religiously).
I read this story as being creative non-fiction because of the organization of the piece, constantly switching the narrative between different ages of the narrator. Its themes reflected the nature of someone on a journey to find answers about themselves, which lead me to believe that it has roots in non-fiction, although some of the anecdotes and flashback dialogue could have easily been driven by a fictitious representation of real life events. Naming specific places and tagging them, such as the reference to upstate New York, and the father presumably residing in Rochester, lead me to believe that it held some significance to the author, with some connection to her real life, regardless if this is true account of events in her life.
As I side note, I also happen to find it particularly interesting when a writer presents an objective, outside viewpoint of my hometown, Rochester, from someone who is not from New York. It was a pleasant surprise to me while I came upon it during my reading of the story, and it was incredibly interesting being that it was referenced with a cloud of mystery hanging over it. This was mainly because of the question of whether or not it’s possible for them to be able to drive there, as if it may be an unreachable fantasy world, or fictionalized city.