Editor’s Note: Two authors are scheduled to speak at Eduardo Santiago’s Idyllwild Authors Series the weekend of July 21 and 22. Paula Priamos will appear at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at Café Aroma. The next day, Sunday, July 22, Amy Wallace, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda,” will speak at 2 p.m. at the regular series venue, INK Book Gathering on North Circle Drive.
Paula Priamos, the next author for Eduardo Santiago’s Idyllwild Authors Series, examines whether a shyster defense attorney, disbarred for embezzlement, can also be a good father. The father in this case is hers, and her memoir “The Shyster’s Daughter” chronicles her father’s peccadillos and unsavory professional practices and at the same time credits his attentiveness and firm hand in raising her.
According to her publisher, Priamos breaks new genre ground in what is now being called a detective memoir. Although the facts are laid out with accuracy, and that is important to Priamos, she gives the reader many opportunities to sort through the facts and arrive at their own conclusions.
“I leave it up to the reader to participate,” said Priamos. “I use many quotes, contradictory pieces of information. The reader pieces together the information.”
Priamos has been writing professionally for 10 years — essays, blogs, memoirs and an upcoming novel. But it was a quote from her father the night before he died, that launched the book she’ll be discussing with Santiago. “I cheated death,” he told her in a telephone call. A man in a ski mask had attempted to rob him. Her father flipped him off and managed to get away. And yet he died the next morning. “I wanted to investigate those hours from the phone call until his death,” she said. “It haunted me.”
Priamos said she structured her memoir to read like a novel using plot and dialogue. “It was a way of memorializing my father,” she said.
The title she chose caused Priamos some difficulty, offending as it did the sensibilities of some. At a book party a female Jewish author objected that the word should only come out of Jewish mouths, not from a Greek about a Greek. “My father was a shyster,” wrote Priamos in her blog. “He was a crooked lawyer who cheated his clients out of money. Everybody called him that word.”
Yet, in the course of her work, what emerges is a portrait of a present and loving father who made time and room for his daughter.
With those seemingly conflicting elements, Priamos’ book should prove a compelling read.
Priamos’ appearance at Café Aroma is free to the public. Frank Ferro is supplying complimentary refreshments to attendees.