In 2004, Tony Hendra’s memoir, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The book detailed his life as a comedian who helped launch the careers of Jim Belushi and Chevy Chase, wrote for and edited The National Lampoon, and performed in such cult classics as This Is Spinal Tap, even as he overindulged in alcohol and drugs. But there was a glaring omission in his supposed tell-all confessional: the sexual abuse of his daughter Jessica.
After more than thirty years of silence, Jessica faced a harrowing choice. In this powerful book, she reveals how she came to the decision to publicly confront her father, sacrificing any hope of reconciling with him and setting into motion a New York Times investigation that shocked the literary world when it broke the story of abuse. But Jessica’s account is neither a minor footnote nor an angry response to her dad’s bestseller. How to Cook Your Daughter, titled after a satirical piece her father wrote only a few months before the abuse began—is an unflinching and unsentimental look at a childhood that never was, set in a time and place straight from the pages of the outrageous magazine that her father helped to create.
Against the backdrop of the 1970s New York comedy scene, the memoir traces Jessica’s journey from a lost and abused child to a young woman struggling with bulimia and anorexia to the mother of two who becomes convinced that challenging her father is the only way to reclaim a life that never seemed her own.