Tired of solitary dinners in college town restaurants and the key-card "click" of hotel room locks, Sports Illustrated staffer Austin Murphy makes a deal with his wife. For six months, he will undertake "the Experiment," wherein his wife will resume her writing career while he takes a leave from the magazine to run a household that includes an 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Cooking, cleaning, sickness, health . . . it's all chronicled here in the occasionally hysterical "How Tough Could It Be?"
The answer is not surprising: Plenty tougher than the ex-jock turned scribe expected. Murphy's anecdotal, self-deprecating style, familiar to SI readers, plays well here. Going in, he wonders how stay-at-home moms can be so forgetful. Later, we see him Chevy Chase-like, bleary-eyed, driving his kids back from a Vegas vacation (yep, Vegas) forgetting to unhook the gas nozzle from his car as he leaves the station. He drives on blithely. His epiphanies can be poignant, his struggles huge. Some moments -- his son, Devin, for instance, chugging an entire bowl of cling peaches as a "tsunami of peach syrup washes ashore on his face" -- are touching and comic.
Murphy's journey is as much about his own self-discovery as his family's. You don't need to have kids to appreciate the trip.
-- Micah Pollack