Way back in mid-December, I won a book in a contest by SciFi Dad (blogs here, here, and here). The book was “Dadditude” by Philip Lerman, subtitled “How a Real Man Became a Real Dad”. The dust jacket characterizes it thusly: “With a brain filled with hyperlinks in hyperdrive, Lerman draws parenting lessons from all the wrong places — MAD Magazine, Samsonite commercials, and Sixties song lyrics — but comes up with the right answer: Nothing gets you through the sleeplessness, the mania, and the tears and fears of parenthood like a good laugh.”
Philip Lerman was in his mid-forties when he and his wife had a new baby, Max. Although they already had a pre-teen in their family, this was Mr. Lerman’s first experience with a baby. Mr. Lerman was the producer of FOX’s “America’s Most Wanted” TV program and seems to have seen himself as “a man’s man”.
The book is a 243 page reflection on the first few years of his life with Max, during which he eventually left his job to become a full-time stay at home dad.
Although I’m grateful to SciFi Dad and Philip Lerman for sending me the book, I have to say that it wasn’t my favourite read. I think the main problem I had was that I found it difficult to relate to Mr. Lerman. He was over 10 years older than me in context of the book, pretty much putting us in different generations. His life experiences and mine are clearly quite different. Our backgrounds don’t seem to have anything in common, and I’m willing to bet our political & philosophical leanings — while not quite defining ‘poles apart’ — are pretty divergent.
That aside, the book is written in a very folksy but somewhat unfocused manner. I don’t mind the folksy, but the unfocused bit made it a difficult to stay focused as a reader. It details Mr. Lerman’s experiences in roughly chronological order, from having to deal with a fertility clinic right through to his son’s fourth birthday. It is a hither-and-fro combination of vignettes, personal reflections, and social commentary. Many of the passages are funny — or intended to be. While I did have some laugh-out-loud moments, a lot of the book was wry or even droll. There were a number of very personal things, and these came across as very sincere, but as a reader it made me a little uncomfortable — they seemed a little too personal. The best example of these are the “letters to Max” written by the author at each birthday of his son. I’ve seen these on blogs too … where bloggers will discuss a year in review in context of a letter to their at-the-moment illiterate child … and I don’t tend to read them either due to the same feeling of unease.
A testament to how I felt about the book was the length of time it’s taken me to get through it: I received the book on the 10th of January, and didn’t finish it until a few days ago. 245-ish pages in a month. Large type, large spacing, smallish book. Sigh, I just couldn’t get into it. In the same period, I got through two heftier Sara Douglass books.
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad read. It just didn’t hook me. Maybe it will hook you? Drop me a line and I’ll send it off to you — but only if you promise to review it.