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Superdad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs and Fatherhood [Hardcover]

Christopher Shulgan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 30 2010

Chris Shulgan seemed like an average young urban father: a house in Toronto’s hip Queen West neighbourhood, a loving marriage, afternoons at the park with his infant son. But this enviable life concealed a shocking secret: nights of hard drinking that would push him, inevitably, to the city’s underbelly, where he bought and smoked crack. At first Shulgan managed to justify his behaviour: the occasional drug binge allowed him to blow off steam, ultimately making him a better, more attentive father. Until the night he found himself poised to choose drugs over his child’s safety, and the carefully constructed fa?ade began to crumble.

Woven through Shulgan’s powerful, darkly funny account of his domestic days and restless nights is an exploration of his own misguided ideas of fatherhood. At the heart of Superdad, however, is the deeply personal story of a man finally throwing a light on the darkest corners of his life.

Advance praise for Superdad:

“Infuriating, moving, and terrifying, Superdad is a journey into the dark heart of self-destructive hypermasculinty and out the other side into a? kind of uneasy truce between the idea of ‘father’ and ‘real man.’ As a writer, I found myself awed by Shulgan’s tale-teller’s facility; as a dad, I found myself wanting to smack him until he stopped destroying his family and his life. Superdad is a brave memoir that humanizes the self-immolating urge of the crack addict.”?Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win and co-editor of Boing Boing

“Christopher Shulgan pulls off a cool sort of alchemy; Superdad is an illuminating book about delusion, a wise book about idiocy, a kind-hearted book about acting like a jerk. And then on top of all that, the man makes writing look easy.”?Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Down to This and Ghosted

“Take the assumptions you have about fatherhood and addiction, and the kind of simpering memoirs such issues cook up, and, please, fly the works off the nearest dock. Superdad is a relief. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, Shulgan’s writing makes room for something else. Something greater. Trust me, you’ve been looking for this one.”?Ryan Knighton, author of Cockeyed and C’mon Papa


Product Details


Product Description

Quill & Quire

In his new memoir, Toronto’s Christopher Shulgan, a magazine writer whose first book, The Soviet Ambassador, was shortlisted for the B.C. National Book Award for Non-fiction, chronicles his descent into crack addiction (with a side order of binge-drinking) and how his addiction intersected with his becoming a parent. It’s a stirring, thoughtful account, but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

Shulgan, who had previously had a problem with cocaine and crack (and whose marriage hinged on his continued recovery), greets the news of his incipient parenthood with an internal explosion of self-doubt and dread: “The impending birth of my son,” he writes, “loomed for me like a kind of death.” That metaphysical torment – which I suspect most prospective fathers can relate to, although they don’t typically discuss it – serves as both a catalyst for his drug use and, initially at least, a limitation upon it. Employing an addict’s innate ability to bargain, he sets clear boundaries for himself – he’ll only smoke crack until the baby comes; he’ll never smoke crack in the house, etc. – each of which he inevitably transgresses.

True to the form of the substance abuse memoir, Shulgan hits a crisis point, which puts his infant son at risk. His ensuing recovery and personal growth unfold largely as readers of this genre would expect.

Superdad is well written and well paced. Shulgan has a strong, appealing narrative voice and a keen eye. (I’m reasonably confident that, based on Shulgan’s descriptions alone, I could track down a Toronto crack neighbourhood, score rock without being unduly vic’d, and make a serviceable crack pipe.) It’s a good read, and definitely satisfies, but the reader comes away with the sense that there are depths Shulgan was reluctant to explore.

It’s hard to fault a writer for not wanting to expose all of himself to the reading public (or to his intimates), and Superdad is refreshingly free of both histrionics and bald sentimentality. But the reader is left with a niggling suspicion that there is more to the story.

Review

Advance praise for Superdad:

“Infuriating, moving, and terrifying, Superdad is a journey into the dark heart of self-destructive hypermasculinty and out the other side into a? kind of uneasy truce between the idea of ‘father’ and ‘real man.’ As a writer, I found myself awed by Shulgan’s tale-teller’s facility; as a dad, I found myself wanting to smack him until he stopped destroying his family and his life. Superdad is a brave memoir that humanizes the self-immolating urge of the crack addict.”

?Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win and co-editor of Boing Boing

“Christopher Shulgan pulls off a cool sort of alchemy; Superdad is an illuminating book about delusion, a wise book about idiocy, a kind-hearted book about acting like a jerk. And then on top of all that, the man makes writing look easy.”

?Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Down to This and Ghosted

“Take the assumptions you have about fatherhood and addiction, and the kind of simpering memoirs such issues cook up, and, please, fly the works off the nearest dock. Superdad is a relief. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, Shulgan’s writing makes room for something else. Something greater. Trust me, you’ve been looking for this one.”

?Ryan Knighton, author of Cockeyed and C’mon Papa

Praise for The Solviet Ambassador:

“A well-researched and thoughtful biography.” ? The Globe and Mail (on The Soviet Ambassador)

“A fascinating story of why even insiders lost faith in the Soviet system?and how Canada played its part. Christopher Shulgan illuminates the key friendship between Yakovlev, the Soviet ambassador in Ottawa, and Mikhail Gorbachev, and shows how it contributed to the huge changes in Russia in the 1980s.”
?Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919 and Nixon and Mao


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down Oct. 28 2010
By Kirsten
This was such an easy read, I read it in 2 nights... and I NEVER read books that fast. I couldn't stop reading it, I felt like the writer must have felt while addicted to crack. The most compelling part of the book was that it was so easy to relate to... and so easy to understand the author's feelings and yet so easy to judge and hate him. But regardless of how screwed up he might be, he is freakin' funny. I found myself flipping back and forth between laughter and empathy and repulsion, it almost made me tired. Being a parent myself, totally agree that at some level, you lose a bit of who you were before kids. Would have been nice if it was a little longer to see if he stays clean and continues to be a good dad, and more closure/resolution on the insecurity that was the ultimate source of the addiction. Overall, an outstanding book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Thoughtful Oct. 4 2010
I read this book in a couple of nights, the author is fantastic story teller and the book flows very nicely. It is a beautiful story of self-reflection, the author painfully honest about his addiction to crack. As a women I found his exploration into what has driven him to reject conformity as well as his journey to understanding what is truely masculine especially interesting. If your still a little bruised from the whole "James Frey" scandal don't worry this book is realistic and not fantastical, every page has a ring of truth to it. I was pleasantly surprised by how heartwarming a story this was despite the dark subject matter...this book will have you thinking long after you are finished reading it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Dec 14 2012
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Although finding this book at a decent price is a little challenging, it is worth the hunt. I found my copy at a very low price due to it not having the paper decorative book cover. You have got to read it and then jump over to "Secrets Make You Sick."
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