Books About Fathers Struggling to Father Well
I’ve noticed that a lot of the newly released books I’ve read this year revolve around fathers struggling to be good parents. This age-old theme never seems to tire. Finishing up & Sons this afternoon, my mind drifted to some of the more well known father-child conflicts present in so many literary classics: Saul and Jonathan (and David and Absalom too, for that matter), Charlie and Honoria in Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” (a masterpiece of a short story that you can read here), Mr. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice, John’s father in Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. I highly recommend all four of these books, though I enjoyed Saunder’s collection of quirky short stories and Gilbert’s & Sons in particular. Note that The Dinner is not for the faint of heart (many delicious twists and turns). I did not like The Burgess Boys anywhere near as much as Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, but it was still an interesting plot-line (two brothers deal with myriad family issues that surface when their nephew is accused of committing a hate crime in rural Maine).
Some of these dads mean well. Others are just plain mean. Pretty much all of them are selfish, foolish, childish. These books make me all the more grateful for my own dad, who is none of those things.