Tuesday, October 4, 2011
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
Ok. I'll admit it. When I hear about books that revolve around the events of one single day, I cringe. I do. But I have good reason to. Saturday bored my socks off with it's hum-drum, well-to-do, fancy pants poshness while Fight For Your Long Day - an enjoyable read, don't get me wrong - crammed way too much stuff into one day to make it believable.
So experience tells me that the day in the life of novels never seem to find that happy medium between keeping me entertained while also keeping things realistic. Is it an impossible literary feat? Is it the Holy Grail equivalent of storytelling?
Not to fear folks! Greg Olear has found the magic combination with his "day in the life of a stay-at-home-dad" dramedy Fathermucker. It's a book that quickly worms its way to your heart while fingering your funny bone!
Josh Lansky works hard... at keeping his two preschool aged kids dressed, fed, and free of closet monsters while his wife is away on a week long business trip. On the day before his wife is due back, while hanging out at his daughter's morning playdate, one of the mom's drop a bomb on him : "I don't know how to tell you this, so I'm just going to tell you... It's about Stacey... I think she's having an affair."
As soon as the words leave her mouth, his daughter bangs her head and begins to cry. In the chaos that ensues, Josh fails to find out more details and ends up leaving in a daze. The rest of the day is a whirlwind of worries and concerns - dealing with his emotions and confusion and paranoia and inability to get ahold of his wife. Is she truly cheating on him? With who? When? How long has it been going on? How could she do that to him?
As he struggles to contain his inner turmoil, he also has to remain attentive to his children's needs - especially his son, who has Asperger's and is still quite dependent on him and prone to sporadic outbursts. He's got to make it through a field trip at the preschool, a play-date at the park, dinner, and bedtime without suffering a nervous breakdown or caving into his insecurities...
Fathermucker is a mosaic of fatherhood. It's clearly filled to the brim with pieces of Greg's own experiences and it tenderly balances the good with the bad, the funny with the serious, the parental frustrations with the silliness of childhood. What is more hilarious than hearing your daughter tell you that she doesn't want to wear underwear to bed so she can air out her china? Or getting your kids to brush their teeth at bedtime by threatening them with the fear of developing "corn teeth"? Or promising to bring your son to Lowe's to buy him the newest edition of a home floorplan magazine if he behaves while you're out running errands? How could you make that stuff up?!
(I knew a guy who used to threaten his kids with "no milk at dinnertime" as a punishment for misbehaving! I'm not kidding!)
Oozing with pop culture goodness (it wouldn't be a Greg Olear novel without pop culture references), Greg not only addresses the old-fashioned stigma of SAHD's... he cleverly crumples the stigma into a ball, throws it into the air, and knocks it out of the park, giving the whole kit and kaboodle a new name and meaning!
Greg makes being a full time father cool again.