The measure of a man : the story of a father, a son, and a suit /
JJ Lee.
edition
Emblem edition.
imprint
Plattsburgh, N.Y. : Emblem, McClelland & Stewart, 2012.
description
293 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 21 cm
ISBN
0771046480, 9780771046483
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Plattsburgh, N.Y. : Emblem, McClelland & Stewart, 2012.
isbn
0771046480
9780771046483
abstract
Lee tells the story of his father, a restaurateur in Montreal, their relationship, and his own training as a tailor in Chinatown in Vancouver.
catalogue key
11557336
 
Includes bibliographical references (pages 291-292).
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize, CAN, 2012 : Nominated
First Chapter
There is a suit in the back of my closet. Over the years dust has gathered on its shoulders. I own other, better suits but I hold on to this one because, for me at least, it is special.
 
The suit attracts and repels me. It came to me under the saddest of circumstances, and I’ve dared to wear it in public only once. I wore it to test myself, to see if it would fit – not only in its cut and dimensions, but to prove to myself I could bear the mantle and wear it without feeling like an impostor, a boy posing as a man. Most of the time I try to ignore it, and so years can go by without my touching it. But even so, I always know it’s there.
 
Once in a while, I feel compelled to run my hand along its lapels and think of the man who wore it. I see the line of his jaw, his broad torso and its incipient roundness. I see the pores on his fleshy, bulbous nose. I remember the feel of his thick skin and the dryness of his hands, and I wonder if I look like him.
 
This is my father’s suit.
 
The coat is single-breasted with a notch lapel. A boy would say it is black; in fact, it is dark navy. I lift the hanger off the rod and turn the suit this way and that in the morning sun breaking through the blinds. When the angle is just right, the colour has more depth than I remember, flashing with casts of royal and cerulean blue. Perhaps it is only my imagination, or a trick of the light.
 
Even without putting the jacket on, I can tell it won’t fit me, although I have grown heavier and thicker over the years. The chest is too full and the shoulders are too wide. My father was always the bigger man, but the exaggerated proportions are as much a by-product of dated tastes as the measuring tape. The button placement is low and swaying, evidence of Giorgio Armani’s early louche influence on menswear. It has been decades since it was considered stylish to button jackets below the natural belt line (think of the days ofMiami Vice).
 
Contemporary fashion dictates the crucial fastening point must be closer to the sternum, far above the belly button. (The higher “button stance” creates the illusion of longer legs.) In nearly every detail – the broad shoulders, the low notch on the wide lapel, the two heavy brass buttons hanging at a low, testicular altitude – the suit is old, outmoded. Why does it matter? If it doesn’t fit, why not throw the suit out and buy a new one?
 
Outside of a Konica camera he gave me as a wedding present and a pair of metal eyeglass frames I found in his apartment after his death, this suit is the only thing I have from my father. Though I have been tempted to abandon it by the back door of the Salvation Army store down the hill, the suit won’t let me.
 
A suit is never just a suit.


From the Hardcover edition.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem