Reviews for Dad Is Fat


BookPage Reviews 2013 June
Special treats for special dads

Father’s Day 2013 brings with it memoirs, nostalgia pieces, books on child-rearing (specifically from Dad’s POV) and also interesting volumes related to golf’s singular, imaginative hold on the father-son bond. We can’t review every item that made it over the transom, but here’s a sampler of our favorites.

SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND

In an epic mix of sprawling journalism and personal memoir, veteran magazine writer Stephen Rodrick presents The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey into His Father’s Life, in which he searches for clues to the mystery of his dad, a U.S. Navy pilot who crashed into the Indian Ocean in 1979 during maneuvers that were part of America’s response to the Iranian hostage crisis of that year. Rodrick, only 13 at the time, here acknowledges the resulting emotional gaps and confusion in his family’s life, and sets out to grapple with his own dysfunction while also investigating his father’s past to gain perspective on the man and on the military lifestyle in general, especially as it affects spouses and children. Rodrick’s approach is nothing if not frank, and at the risk of alienating those he loves, he emerges triumphant, purging some personal demons and seeming to gain a better understanding of what family means.

There are some interesting thematic similarities to Rodrick’s work in The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA, in which former Newsweek foreign correspondent Scott C. Johnson recounts his curiously peripatetic upbringing and makes an effort to understand his father and his unlikely profession. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that Johnson learned his dad was a CIA agent. Looking back, Johnson recounts the veil of deception that always seemed to shroud his father’s attitudes, demeanor and social activities. Questions remain unanswered for years, yet some clarity emerges right before 9/11, when son elicits from father an understanding of his notions of patriotism and morality. Later, while working as an international reporter in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, Johnson begins to find parallels in his own work, mainly in its secretive nature and its reliance on a certain kind of trust. With a scope spanning the Cold War and the war on terror, Johnson’s father-son memoir offers a rare glimpse of family, from separation to hard-won reconciliation.

LIFE ON THE LINKS

In Loopers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odyssey, professional golf caddy turned journalist John Dunn offers an engaging and surprisingly gritty approach to the sport’s literature. Against his father’s wishes, Dunn takes up the life of an itinerant caddy, and this volume essentially covers his episodic, two-decade journey across the U.S. working at golf courses great and small. Dunn makes it inside Augusta National Golf Club, manages to cross paths with celebrities and titans of industry, even travels across the pond to St. Andrews. It’s a gypsy existence that sometimes demands a scrappy persistence and a lot of compromises, yet Dunn’s account makes clear that his “a breed apart” personality is a good match for the vagabond lifestyle, which includes its fair share of fun and adventure. The book comes full circle when Dunn must confront his father’s imminent death from cancer. Closure occurs as the book reaches its poignant end, and golf’s linkage to the relationship between fathers and sons resonates once again.

TWO BIG DADDIES

Actor Steve Schirripa has had some great roles. Formerly the entertainment director of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, he then parlayed his connections there into both TV and big-screen roles, mainly on “The Sopranos” as Bobby Bacala. Fact is, Schirripa is bigger than life. And while his new book, Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters Is Tougher Than I Look, written with Philip Lerman, definitely has a tongue-in-cheek feel to it, the tough-guy approach he espouses to child-rearing is heartfelt and refreshingly commonsensical. For Schirripa, it’s about protection—plus it’s his conviction that when parents assert an authoritative stance, kids will push boundaries more reasonably (and hence maybe end up with fewer tattoos!). This is parenting the old-school way, laced with tales from the trenches and committed advice on how to bring kids through the tough years, including discussion of topics like dating and sex, drinking and drugs, the value of money and hard work, and more.

“Today, big families are like waterbed stores; they used to be everywhere, and now they are just weird.” So says popular comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, the author of Dad Is Fat but more tellingly the father of five young children, who, as of this writing, live with him and his “very fertile wife, Jeannie” in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Unsurprisingly, Gaffigan’s new book reads like one big extended stand-up routine about family life in general and the challenges of parenting a large brood in particular. Fans of the author’s sharp, dry wit will definitely be amused. The book is peppered with warm, candid photos of Gaffigans young and old.

AN AMERICAN ICON

Finally, there’s John Wayne: The Genuine Article, a coffee-table book suitable for the movie legend’s fans. Wayne was a dad, of course—son Ethan provides the preface here—and certainly was an authoritative film figure who epitomized the rugged American male. Michael Goldman’s text offers a welcome rundown of Duke’s life, from his almost accidental entry into the movies to his iconic rise in celluloid and later status as patriotic figure, with concluding chapters sharing a glimpse into Wayne’s personal moments and memories as a father. The plentiful graphic material includes reproductions of rare personal documents, family photos, letters to and from Hollywood stars and politicians, shooting-script excerpts from various Wayne flicks and other memorabilia.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
Comedian Gaffigan delivers zany stories from the front lines of urban parenting. Living in a two-bedroom New York City apartment with five kids and an amazingly "fertile" wife, frumpy funnyman Gaffigan may have found, in a sense, the perfect domestic situation for a comedian trolling for new material. His chaotic family life serves as the basis for this nonfiction debut, and readers can assume that he'll reap an endless supply of comedic material from this situation for years to come. Branching out from his usual wheelhouse jokes involving subjects like bacon or McDonald's hamburgers, the author's G-rated sense of humor expands into new parental/responsible adult territory. Topics include his wife's obvious love of pregnancy, the cringe-worthy question of circumcision, the demented universe of children's literature and the challenging adventures of raising kids in the city. He gets much mileage out of the sort of exaggerated mock cruelty that comedian Louis C.K. revels in, only Gaffigan is a bit less mean-spirited. His prose style resembles that of most comedians who write books: The sentences are simple, short and punchy, with much the same rhythms of delivery as their stand-up counterparts. But as the book progresses, the rapid-fire assault of jokes and punch lines can seem strained, and Gaffigan sometimes misses his targets and pulls up lame, much like a heavyweight boxer who comes out of his corner scoring points early but punches himself out halfway through the fight. Later in the book, when he compares a 3-year-old with insomnia to a heroin addict going through withdrawal, you know you're beginning to witness a once-effective formula running itself into the ground. Hardly groundbreaking comedy material, but the book will appeal to Gaffigan's fans. Others can stick to his usually funny Twitter feed. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Express Reviews
Stand-up comedian Gaffigan's first book covers similar ground as his 2012 self-released Mr. Universe special (also a Grammy-nominated album), but his expanded reflections on fatherhood read more heartfelt than hilarious. He still makes the most of his experiences raising five kids in a two-bedroom, five-story Bowery walk-up, as well as the dichotomy of being driven crazy by his kids while hating to be away from them. In a series of vignettes, Gaffigan reflects on the similarity between bars and nursery school, evaluates children's literature (including bonding with The Giving Tree), and explains the horrific reality of a Disney vacation, all the while sanctifying his wife and playing up his ineptitude. Verdict Gaffigan joins the ranks of Bill Cosby and Paul Reiser with this comedic approach to parenthood. A quick read parents will appreciate. Recommended.--Terry Bosky, Madison, WI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 May #2

Clean-mouthed comedian Gaffigan--best known for his riffs on Hot Pockets, McDonald's, and bacon--lived by himself for more than 13 years before getting married and fathering five children who now reside with him and his wife, Jeannie, in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. What began as a series of tweets about the everyday chaos of this self-professed loner's life has now become Gaffigan's hilarious first book. In 60 short chapters that read like stand-up bits, the comedian shares his insights on being the youngest of six kids in a Catholic family and explains why adults are really just "giant toddlers." He covers everything actual toddlers love, from candy to cousins, mocks preschool and nut allergies in three swift paragraphs, and explains why he and Jeannie opted for five home births as well as how they are raising so many kids in a such a tiny living space. Occasionally, Gaffigan feels the need to explain his jokes, but he needn't worry, as this laugh-out-loud collection also is one of the most honest and endearing portrayals of fatherhood penned by a contemporary comedian. The inclusion of dozens of photographs featuring Gaffigan's adorable family furthers the personal touch. 50 b&w photos. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Clean-mouthed comedian Gaffigan--best known for his riffs on Hot Pockets, McDonald's, and bacon--lived by himself for more than 13 years before getting married and fathering five children who now reside with him and his wife, Jeannie, in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. What began as a series of tweets about the everyday chaos of this self-professed loner's life has now become Gaffigan's hilarious first book. In 60 short chapters that read like stand-up bits, the comedian shares his insights on being the youngest of six kids in a Catholic family and explains why adults are really just "giant toddlers." He covers everything actual toddlers love, from candy to cousins, mocks preschool and nut allergies in three swift paragraphs, and explains why he and Jeannie opted for five home births as well as how they are raising so many kids in a such a tiny living space. Occasionally, Gaffigan feels the need to explain his jokes, but he needn't worry, as this laugh-out-loud collection also is one of the most honest and endearing portrayals of fatherhood penned by a contemporary comedian. The inclusion of dozens of photographs featuring Gaffigan's adorable family furthers the personal touch. 50 b&w photos. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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