Reviews of Michael Lewis's 'Home Game' and Ben George's 'The Book of Dads'
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood
By Michael Lewis | Norton. 189 pp. $23.95
THE BOOK OF DADS
Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood
Edited by Ben George | Harper Perennial. 273 pp. Paperback, $14.99
Let's get this straight: Michael Lewis is not his father. So who is this father of three? He's still trying to figure that out. And lucky us, we get to go along for the journey.
Like many other middle-aged men, Lewis, who writes about sports and finance, is a little stuck between roles. On one side is the generation of his father, who once told him, "I didn't even talk to you until you went away to college." On the other side is the new generation of dads, who will read this book as "a snapshot of what I assume will one day be looked back upon as a kind of Dark Age of Fatherhood," Lewis writes. "Obviously, we're in the midst of some long unhappy transition between the model of fatherhood as practiced by my father and some ideal model."
The fact is, in this delightful book, Lewis doesn't fit that ideal model, but he's clearly a man who spends his days figuring out how to come close.
From the first laugh-out-loud anecdote about his toddler daughter fending off bully boys with words that make Lewis blush and beam, to his wife's nightmarish postpartum depression, he illustrates the life of a modern-day dad who is, yes, much more hands-on than his father, but who still tries to justify not spending time with his second infant after birth. (Hey, he has a book to write, and it's not like she'll miss him at that blob age!)
When each of Lewis's children was born, he kept a record of what actually happened -- wisely, since we all know something makes us block out much of that early time (probably so we'll reproduce again). "Home Game" is the result of those records. And in that sense, it's similar to Anne Lamott's wonderful "Operating Instructions." It's hard to believe anything could compare to her painfully and wonderfully honest book about the first year of her son's life. But here it is. And in a dad's voice, no less. How so not our father's generation.
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