Gordon, who wrote several novels about her father, is a writer who almost
wasn't. Born on December 8, 1940, in Long Island, New York, she grew up enchanted with the
book, Peter Pan. But she was frightened by the sinister Captain
Hook, so her father removed every reference to the pirate.
Whenever he read to her, he would insert made-up characters in
place of Hook. He also encouraged his daughter to participate and
taught her to write poetry and short stories while taking her to the library
every Saturday afternoon.
When Gordon was seven years old, her father had a heart
attack in the main reading room of that library and died, and Gordon was
raised by her mother and grandmother, both of whom downplayed
the girl's creativity. "When my father died," she said, "it was like all
lights went out."
Following college, Gordon published several novels,
including Final Payments (1978) and Men and Angels (1985),
both including characters based upon her father. Years later, she set
about writing a biography of his life; but, as she delved deeper into his
history, she realized that what she remembered about him wasn't her father
She had grown up thinking he was a Harvard graduate when
he'd never even completed high school. She thought he'd been a writer
when in reality he was a publisher of pornography magazines. She
thought he had grown up Jewish when in fact he had converted to Catholicism
and become anti-Semitic. She recalled him going off to work each day
when her mother actually supported the family financially.
Gordon wrote about the experience of investigating her
father's life in her memoir, The Shadow Man: A Daughter's Search for Her
Father (1996). "Writing the book," she said afterward, "made me
realize...I'm more self-invented than I thought." She said that she
resented the lies her father had told her about his life, but she believes
that if she hadn't believed them, she never would have become a writer.
"The myth of my father gave me courage."
Besides novels, Gordon has published several novellas and
short stories, essays, poetry, articles, and critiques. Her novel, Pearl,
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