Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids-- Even When They're Driving Him Nuts Paperback – May 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Though he entering an already crowded field of pithy family essayists, Wilder's first book still resonates as an idiosyncratic charmer, avoiding the easy jokes for more carefully calculated wit. The familiar perils of parenthood-diaper changing, sleepless nights, inappropriate early words-are enumerated with an easygoing prose style that is consistently clever without ever trying too hard. Wilder is at his best when he ventures slightly farther afield from the standard set-pieces of the genre, such as in the show-stopping piece "Blood on the Tracks," in which he attends a music class for his son taught by a psychotic woman named Judith. Wilder perfectly conveys the nightmarish situation, recalling with escalating anxiety the rhyming couplets in which the teacher sings all of her instructions ("Repeating notes in such location / Is called proper audiation").. Unfortunately, the collection of 33 essays can get repetitive, and also suffers from the disjointed chronology that sometimes plagues works such as these. Nevertheless, Wilder deserves praise for his humor-especially his deadpan and appropriately dispatched profanity-as well as for the well rendered portraits of his worrying wife Lala and his two children.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Wilder's collection is spiced with sharp-eyed but never cruel observations of kids' befuddling behavior and hilarious scatology…. His love for his family comes through without ever seeming cloying…. Capture[s] the absurdity and joy to be found in the most important job a man can do."—Los Angeles Times
“Robert Wilder’s hilarious and boldly candid essays about the realities of parenting go down like gin and tonic on a hot summer afternoon.”—People
"More profane, more ironic and at times more touching than a whole stack of well-meaning child-rearing manuals....Even if your husband or father or brother isn't much of a reader, Daddy Needs a Drink would be sure to make him laugh."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
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In the mundane world of heedless and demanding children, Wilder serves himself up as a churlish "Johnny Wiseass," quick to make fun of himself and everyone else. But he can be tender as well, a "slightly overweight white guy," vying for both Father of the Year and his seven-year-old daughter's eternal love. Preparing for an appearance at her elementary school in a ridiculous snowman suit, he imagines how, after passing out the candy canes, he would pop the hood and surprise his daughter, who would "declare her love to me now, next year, and even when I followed her in our minivan on dates."
It's a big circus, and everyone gets a turn. "My father," Wilder writes, "was from the `move on' school of emotional counselling. Something hurts, you feel pain, and then you either cut that part off (even if it's your heart) or ignore it and move forward."
Better duck, because here comes his wife, Lala. Out on a family expedition to buy a servicable refrigerator, she spies Rob caressing an elaborate outdoor grill. The author is lost, dreaming of the fish and game he could cook on this sumptuous appliance, when suddenly Lala appears at his side. "Step away from that grill," she says.
In the midst of a group of early-elementary school parents, when a woman makes a tart remark about his daughter's cuteness-"Well, Poppy is famous around here"-Rob turns to the group and says, "It's true. She is cute. Now if she'd only give up smoking." The woman laughs politely, uneasily, "her mouth pinched like a pickled octopus's ass."
I loved this book. The life we lead with kids is so draining and uncool that Wilder's sendups are always a delight. He mocks with a feathery touch or a sharp stab, but on every page he wins us over-because it's always clear how in love he is with his family.
In short, this book is brilliant. Family stories from the perspective of an father. The stories ring true to anyone who has kids or has known young children, or wants to know about the dilemmas, trial and tribulations men face. Wilder (who I never heard of before picking up the copy) also has a wonderful way with words, analgies and humor. He's a great writer and storyteller. I found myself laughing out loud and smiling throughout most of these episodes. I'd be surprised if we don't this made into a major motion picture soon.
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