Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fathermucker by Greg Olear

About Fathermucker

• 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 take: I have mixed feelings about this book. Let's first get the most obvious out on the table. Olear is a gifted and observant writer. He takes the mundane of life and writes with aplomb. He articulates  many thoughts I have that I think might be too weird for anyone to know. But Greg Olear does. The language is exceedingly strong. Shocking, I know, given the title of the book so I really have only myself to blame. I don't mind a couple of "f" bombs in my reading. But the language he uses is far from the language I use or language I hear at work.

And I work at an alternative high school.

My students come close but then there is the added content. Again, it's the "f" word. Nearly everybody's doing it and not with their spouses. But it's the detail that pushed me just a little over the edge. Again, it's just not the kind of detail I go into with my friends when we talk girl talk. But herein lies the quandary.

The protagonist, Josh, is a stay-at-home dad. He hangs out with the cast of The Real Housewives (not really, but very close) which, I might add, are far too surgically perky and thrive on neurosis and drama for my own tastes. Not that that kind of thing isn't going on, but, ew.

So, back to Josh. He's a writer experiencing writer's block. He sold a screenplay and he's feeling rather smothered by the lack of testosterone laced interaction and the full hilt of parenthood. His wife, Stacy, is an actress who is working for IBM. They have two children who are both high maintenance. This is one day of Josh's life. Any mother or father who has spent any amount of time with their children will relate to Josh. It is clever, witty, and his thought processes and emotions mirror real parents.

That said, Josh is tangential. If you are a "give me the story" kind of a reader, this book might frustrate you. Olear is an incredibly gifted essayist, using Josh's thought processes to go off onto any subject. Some of them are really good while others left me feeling like I needed to take a shower.

But don't stop yet. Olear does an exceptional job at describing Asperger's Syndrome and different theories along with opinions not supported by scientific research but thoughts of a parent of a child with PDD. Really, it is very well written and gives the reader an accurate glimpse of what parenting a child with PDD might look like. If you have a child with PDD and are already suffering from PTSD, skip the descriptions but do read the history of Autism and the theories.

Ultimately, the book had a message that I really, really liked. For all the humor, the drama, and the crass language, I finished the book and was glad. I felt empowered.

So, sorry for the mixed review.

About Greg Olear

Greg Olear is the senior editor of the lit blog The Nervous Breakdown and the author of the novel Totally Killer.  His work has appeared in The Rumpus,, The Millions, Chronogram, and Hudson Valley Magazine.  A professor of creative writing at Manhattanville College, he lives with his family in New Paltz, New York.
Connect with Greg on Facebook and Twitter. Visit his blogand website.

Greg’s Tour Dates

Tuesday, October 4th: The Scarlet Letter
Wednesday, October 5th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, October 6th: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, October 10th: Like Fire
Wednesday, October 12th: Rundpinne
Thursday, October 13th: The House of the Seven Tails
Monday, October 17th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, October 18th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, October 19th: Colloquium
Thursday, October 20th: Amusing Reviews
Greg's Facebook page, his Twitter account, and his blog and website.


Anonymous said...

"For all the humor, the drama, and the crass language, I finished the book and was glad. I felt empowered." That is a rave review if I ever heard one!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Kim said...

I read several of the TLC reviews for this book after reading your review, mostly because I was intrigued by the word "empowered".

On one of the posts, there was a paragraph about Joe, and how Josh compares himself to Joe.

And the part about not feeling as manly because he's not making money? - I feel exactly the same way, except that I don't feel less manly - I just feel, well, LESS.

Then I began to wonder about how much of this was fiction, and how much of it was the author's life.