Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad’s Mass is work of literary fiction just over 48k words. Young Gretchen “Streamly Gredible” Ider’s two grandfathers survived Auschwitz. Arguably her parents, both born in metropolitan USA, did not.
The work begins with Grettie reeling from the deaths of her emotionally incompetent mother and Obby, her loving paternal grandfather. It’s partly narrated by her exuberantly eccentric fat dad, Avram (Abe) Ider and by Grettie herself. Obby’s (holocaust inflected) picture books punctuate this raucous meditation on the burdens of history, survivorship, and the implacable spur of generativity.
In due course, she also loses her dad who absurdly dies trying to battle elusive NAZIS on the Boston Common (after running afoul of an amped band of masked ANTIFA ninjas). Then she navigates the lingering demise of her maternal grandfather, an apparently cold, distant, cynical money man with a reputation for dubious collaborations.
The novel concludes with Grettie awkwardly ensconced in the relatively wholesome household of a guardian family where she struggles with her family’s legacy of surviving, succumbing, remembering, and creation.
Streamly Gredible indeed.
Gretchen Ider's parents did not want her. Not her morbidly fat dad before she was born, and not her neurasthenic mother ever since. But Gretty is alive only because her two grandfathers survived Auschwitz, each in their own way: one sharp and ruthless, the other strong and beautiful. She carries in her something from all her predecessors and carts her mother’s ashes in a plush knapsack.
When we first meet her, motherless Gretty is mourning her gone soulful Obby. This was her fat dad's Abba who'd written a strange slew of sad kid books most modern parents would find insalubrious for their darling little dears. These illustrated stories punctuate the novel’s development.
Gretty’s troubled mom had fitfully found purpose working and writing with Obby to inoculate the world against future Holocausts. Eventually, we learn she died by her own hand, perhaps in reaction to discovering her own father, the now "prosperous" Zeyde Z, survived Auschwitz by collaborating with the murderous NAZI system.
Battling fascism is sort of a family business, and Gretty's (enormously so) preoccupied father falls fatally after a massive NAZI hunt on Boston's great green Common. Then she's required to regally oversee the final passage of her remaining grandad: gaunt, crafty Zeyde who’d never left an end loose even if he couldn't pocket it.
Yet Streamly Gredible is not left entirely alone. As much as it burdens her, life ping pongs her forward. In a relatively safe foster home, she’s restlessly charged with her family legacies of strength, smarts, stories - and responsibility.
No Odyssey has more twists and turns than survival.
I cannot honestly or realistically offer comparable titles.
In homage to Madeline L’Engle my book is infused with questionable references to quantum physics, an idle obsession of Abe Ider, the "fat dad" of the title. Entwined through all this are religiously tinged musings of the two major characters: daughter and father. Home wrecked Gretty is entranced by an illustrated children's (Christian) bible and a Simone Weil tinged version of Catholicism. Her decidedly unorthodox dad’s avocations included developing a new spiritual philosophy, Chelonialism, a multi-dimensional mindset suitable for multilevel marketing.
The book is also larded with stories and, hopefully, humor, intended to tribute the work of John Irving, first experienced by me in the aftershocks of the Lennon assassination. With fat dad Avram Ider, I increasingly believe that the relentless creative thrust all nature (including the apparently “inanimate”) is best illustrated by the immortal amalgam of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.
Table of Contents
Vernal Pools of New England
House of Quips
The Cruelest Month
Simmering Summer Kills
Home for the Jolly Days