A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra:
No longer did he write in his son’s company. Ramzan had learned to speak, though Khassan wished he hadn’t. The boy used his voice like a rubber mallet; can I was the only question that escaped his mouth, never what or how or why. Ramzan wasn’t clever or kind or imaginative, or even overly obedient or cruel or dull, and Khassan built his aversion upon the empty cellar of what his son was not. In the historical sources there were kings and princes whose distaste for their progeny took more sadistic forms than Khassan’s indifference; compared to Ivan the Terrible, he was a paradigm of good parenting. You can choose your son no more than you can choose your father, but you can choose how you will treat him, and Khassan chose to treat his as if he wasn’t there. He chose to write when he should have spoken, to speak when he should have listened. He chose to read his books when he should have watched his son, to watch when he should have approached. One day when Ramzan was eight he entered Khassan’s office and asked his father to teach him to ride a bicycle. “You’ll fall,” Khassan said, without looking up from the page. The moment would haunt him later. What if he had looked up?