Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Book Will Change Your Life - Fathermucker by Greg Olear.

Travel. Read. Canceled flights. More read. We almost feel guilty about the fact that Fathermucker by Greg Olear isn't even coming out until October, because you will want to read it, and we hope you will. We also are struggling with what to write that doesn't give anything away, or the wrong things away, but what is that, and what would those things be? Not entirely sure, so here's what we will say, there is a father, a writerly, somewhat faux writerly, yet still writerly father none-the-less, who works at home while doing most of the parenting duties. There is a long day, and yes the book covers just one day. A day full of play dates and arguments, discipline and crackers, butt wiping and playgrounds, and all the things we do when we are caring for little kids. There is also anger though and frustration, even the threat of violence, and real emotions, all of which rarely gets captured on the page when it comes to describing the quotidian and nightmarish, yet still somehow joyous, most of time, some of time, experience of parenting. And that's something to be applauded, just as Hush Up and Listen Stinky Pooh Butt by Ken Sparling, was to be applauded for all of the same reasons. There is also humor, however, lots of it, and pop culture, lots of that too, and the storytelling is propulsive and welcoming, and it's all very good, and fun, and yet, even with all that said, we want to pause to pay homage to a moment that comes when much of the day has passed, and following a run-in with the police, and the protagonist who has a work-related goal he wants, maybe needs, to pull-off, an interview with a local celebrity, and we won't ruin that by saying any more, but when he finally has a moment with said celebrity, we were struck more than at any other moment in the novel, how hard it all can be, the intersection of parenting and wanting to be an artist, but not quite getting there, or being there, wherever there is, and realizing maybe that maybe you won't ever be there, and that you might have to embrace that your parenting skills may be the best thing about you, despite the work you put in and the anxiety and the scrapping to be something more, and at that moment we thought about our own resistance to trying to be that guy, mostly artist guy who leaves his regular paying job to try and be much more of an artist guy and dad, and our own discomfort with all that, and what it means about masculinity and the struggles of our own dad with this very thing. The moment felt so real and piercing and knowing and timely that we started to cry at the recognition of it all, and that's something, because we don't ever remember quite seeing that in print, and when that happens, when you experience such a graphic display of your own needs, and pain, and wants, it's a gift, and why we read, something we haven't been driven to note here recently, maybe not since The Road, another story about a father, but there it is, and was, and sit tight until October, but then get on it, because it just might change your life.

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