Saturday, February 4, 2012

Valentine's Day Gift Giving Guide -- Gifts for Dads -- Father-Mucker by Greg Olear (Book Review)

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (October 4, 2011)

A day in the life of a dad on the brink: Josh Lansky—second-rate screenwriter, fledgling freelancer, and stay-at-home dad of two preschoolers—has held everything together while his wife is away on business . . . until this morning’s playdate, when he finds out through the mommy grapevine that she might be having an affair. What Josh needs is a break. He’s not going to get one.

“All kinds of funny—raucously, wickedly, sweetly, saucily, surprisingly, profanely funny…a wonderful novel.” –Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets

“A reflection on love, marriage and parenthood, so astoundingly honest, laugh-out-loud funny, and genuine, it will break your heart.” – Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart

My Thoughts:

I first read this funny book over the weekend, and then gave it to my husband to read this past week.  I didn't tell him what it was about, as he is more of a finance or philosophy book reader.  I just told him to keep an open mind when reading it, and that he would be able to relate.  So, this being said, he was game to reading it. 

The book centers around Josh Lansky, a stay-at-home dad, who finds out at a playgroup meet up that his wife, who is currently on a business trip, may be having an affair.  Prior to this gossip, Josh's marital relationship has been suffering, as his wife had earlier pointed out.  We never actually meet the wife, but learn about the type of person she is through Josh's conversations and descriptions of her. It seems like Josh has some self-esteem and insecurity issues, as he spend the rest of the day dwelling over the news he heard and wondering if his wife is really having an affair.  Because he has two preschool age children he has to tend to, he is unable to delve into truly investigating to find out if there is truth the infidelity rumor he heard. 

So, readers are brought into Josh's world as a SAHD and how it is not all roses.  I couldn't wait for my husband to read this book, to learn that even SAHD have it rough with young children that they have to tend to day in and day out.  With two girls, one 18 months and the other 9 weeks old, my husband thinks my day is full of play time and then naps with them.  I keep telling him he is sadly mistaken, as I deal with more poopy diapers, tantrums and overtired girls who don't want to nap, than fun playdates and not a care in the world thoughts, as I don't work.  I continue to tell him that my job as a SAHM is a full-time job, and one I can't check out on or take a day off.  And, as he read this book, he began to see this, and offer up support this past week when he noticed I was beginning to burn out due to being up all night with a colicky baby, and thus in turn waking up the older sister.  And, working off of only 2-3 hrs. of sleep, only to do it again night after night, with full days of fussiness from teething, diaper rashes, colic, etc. has not been fun.  But, I am not alone, as most SAH moms and dads deal with the same frustrations and issues, and question their parenting skills, as they watch their children act out or get on their thinning nerves.  I was definitely laughing to the point of tears at some of the witty remarks Olear uses in this book.  I especially loved how the author used music references throughout the book.  Some readers may question Olear's comparison parenting to war, but if you ever dealt with preschoolers, then you will relate.  

This book is worth reading cover to cover by both moms and dads, as you will both relate to the themes discussed in this book, including trust, infidelity, friendship, self-esteem issues, parenting, love, marriage, autism and masculinity.  You really need to keep an open mind when reading this book, because at times I began to loose interest with all the witty remarks, as they seemed to take over the plot of the book.  But, I continued reading and was glad that I did.  You will feel for Josh and want to finish the book to see if his wife was really cheating on him.  I will not spoil it for you -- you'll have to read the book to find out.  

I can't get over how many positive reviews I have seen on the Internet, as well as heard from other moms who have read this book, and then passed along to their husbands to read.  And, nowadays, more and more dads are staying home to raise their children, so it is only fitting that books that deal with SAHD are popping up and becoming popular.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, why not surprise your husband with a copy of this book. He doesn't have to be a SAHD to appreciate the plot.  It will truly be a laugh out loud book, that you can both enjoy reading and talking about.  Who knows, it may open doors to better communication about what life is really like as a SAH parent.  It is not always rosey, that is for sure

About the Author:

GREG OLEAR (pronounced “OH-lee-ar”) is The Nervous Breakdown’s senior editor and the author of the novels Totally Killer (Harper, 2009) and the forthcoming Fathermucker (Harper, 2011). He teaches fiction writing at Manhattanville College.

His work has appeared at The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Millions,, Chronogram, and Hudson Valley Magazine. He lives in New Paltz, N.Y., with his family.


You can buy this book online at for only $11.07, as well as through other online retailers, and at major bookstores.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by the author, in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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