04 October 2011

My Thoughts on Greg Olear, Fathermucker

Welcome to the TLC tour for Fathermucker!

Title:Fathermucker
Author: Greg Olear
Publisher: Harper
Date: 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction, Humor

310 pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher for TLC Book Tours.
Challenges: None


So, I am the first one on this tour and I'm late.  No excuses.

Josh Lansky learns at his daughter's play date that his wife is having an affair.  This whispered rumor is passed along just before things fall apart and the playdate ends.  So, Josh is stuck for the rest of the day wondering about the truth of the accusations.  Fathermucker takes place over the course of that day.

What drives the book is the humor and also the thoughtful discussion of the role of the Stay At Home Dad (or SAHD, as Josh calls himself).  I think there is a dearth of literature that intentionally explores the topic of masculinity, especially in a realistic and lighthearted matter, and Olear is filling that void.  Take for example this passage, which comes directly after an exchange between Josh and his exterminator, Joe: 
Joe is the sort of guy who feels the need to constantly project his manhood, especially around an obvious inferior like me.  Usually I find his compulsion toward machismo amusing. But today I'm in no mood.  He derides my fatherly duties, the implication being that I'm less of a man than he is, because his line of work is predicated on my primal fears...but it's more than that: he owns his own business, draws an income, makes a decent living -- and I don't. No matter how certain I am that stay-at-home fatherhood will benefit my children more than a few extra dollars in the back, no matter how evolved and twenty-first-century my thinking, the fact remains that masculinity -- and by extension virility -- is inextricably linked to money.
Josh is a screenwriter, whose screenplay (sold and vaulted away somewhere) has earned enough to buy a house in their upscale community.  However, his relationship to his role is complex.  What I like about Olear's portrayal is that he doesn't simply flip the roles, allowing Josh to become a stereotypical mommy, while his wife Stacy is "ball-busting working woman."  Olear wants to bust both of those stereotypes.  He also doesn't portray Josh as a man who is completely satisfied with his station, basking in his own enlightened nature.  He struggles, with both the philosophical aspects of his life and with the everyday.

The only complaint that I have about the book is that it is sometimes a little too clever.  Josh is kind of a cheeseball, and his jokes can be over-the-top.  Although I certainly appreciate the book's humor, what I appreciate more is that it isn't a one-liner, but a complex look at a modern family.  And it is funny.  There are lots of great jokes and descriptions of earthy, yuppie parents, but at the heart Olear portrays a group of people just trying to navigate through the complexity of society and to have loving families (with an occasional unforgivably bad seed).

I definitely recommend the book and I hope you will also check out some of the other stops on the tour:

Wednesday, October 5th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, October 6th: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, October 10th: Like Fire
Tuesday, October 11th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness
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

3 comments:

  1. The title of the book certainly gets my attention! It sounds like a less traumatic, more playful version of Little Children. I'll keep an eye out for it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This one is not at all what I was expecting from the title, but it sounds really good!

    I'm glad that you enjoyed it for the most part. Thanks for being on the tour.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Kate: The title definitely catches people's eyes in public places.

    @heather: It was good. Thanks for dropping by.

    ReplyDelete

I love your comments. Thanks for making me a happy blogger.

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