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My Father’s Legacy of Art & Junk

Sascha Feinstein

In this memoir Sascha Feinstein recounts life with his father, Sam Feinstein, who was both a brilliant artist and a hoarder of monumental proportions. He collected only uncollectible objects—artifacts that required him to give them importance—and at the time of his death in 2003, his hoarding had literally destroyed all three of his large homes. Despite this, Sam Feinstein was a focused artist and art teacher. This strange double helix of creativity and destruction guides the various reflections in this memoir.
Like his students’ canvases—paintings inspired by enormous still lifes constructed from the world’s refuse—this book incorporates a myriad of sources in order to create a more layered experience for the reader. The final result is the depiction of a painter with the highest artistic ideals who nevertheless left behind an incalculable amount of physical and emotional wreckage.
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University Press Copublishing Division / Bucknell University Press
Pages: 218Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-61148-785-5 • Hardback • February 2017 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-61148-786-2 • eBook • February 2017 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
Sascha Feinstein is professor of English and co-director of the Creative Writing Program at Lycoming College.
New Ventures
Notes in a Time of War
Monsters among Trees
Children of Paradise
Cheap Seats
Eternal Machinery
Exotic Dennis
Unrecognized Prophets
Stop-Time: An Interlude
Temples of Inscription
Vegetable Chow Mein Pizza
Sacred Ground
Validating Rhyme
Boats and Starships
Fallen Basilica
Patterns of Organic Energy
Still Life with Raccoon
Fire Dance

Just as his father, a “master scavenger,” made art from things he found, Sascha Feinstein has fashioned a beautiful book out of the hard facts, peculiar love, and brilliant ruins that are his relationship with his father. Wreckage tells the moving story of the father, this great architect of junk who lives in his “paradise of accumulation,” and the difficult but persistent love of the son. In Feinstein’s pages I felt transported back to an older Cape Cod, of dump-picking and ticks and drive-ins, and to a time before antiseptic, air-conditioned homes when quirky beauty counted, and where that beauty grew hidden amidst the brambles. In the end, Wreckage is the story of love and reclamation, of making something out of what was lost.
David Gessner, author of Return of the Osprey and All the Wild That Remains

“Taking on the wreckage,” Sascha Feinstein writes of the overwhelming, impossible legacy of junk the artist and hoarder who raised him left behind, “meant taking on my father.” This book is his accounting: desperate and funny, horrifying and artful, and much less bitter than it had every right to be. If the father’s legacy suffocates, his son’s accomplishment is to find not only room to breathe, but the gifts and challenges that launch a young writer on his way. The buoyancy required to survive a father’s excess becomes a son’s source of strength, enabling him to build—with the good help of poetry, jazz, and the movies—a self and a family, and even to restore a nearly ruined house to radiant life.
Mark Doty, author of Heaven's Coast

Wreckage, Sascha Feinstein becomes an archeologist of his father’s leavings, both physical and emotional. From three houses and from an overgrown lot on Cape Cod, all crammed with a bizarre accumulation of stuff, he salvages rare moments of inspiration and joy. In so doing, he fulfills his father’s dream of “transforming junk into beauty.”​

Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Private History of Awe