Growing up, Lilly Dancyger idolized her father, a sculptor in the 1980s East Village art scene. When he dies, the trauma of the loss reverberates through her adolescence, eventually causing her to spiral into self-destruction. She struggles to adjust to a life without him, carting around stacks of his journals, promising herself that she will read them one day. However, when she finally opens them, she is disappointed to find that his journals detail his plans for his sculptures and very little about the life that he lived.
Determined to piece together some sense of who her father really was, Dancyger tracks down and interviews those who knew him throughout his tumultuous life. She connects key moments in her father’s life to his art, analyzing his work for clues about his emotional landscape. With each interview she gains deeper insight into who he truly was: a brilliant artist held back by inner demons and drug addiction. Dancyger’s eye for detail and devoted pursuit of grim truths make this an enthralling read. By shining light into the dark corners of her family’s past, she creates a brilliant and gut-wrenching memoir.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
More from BUST