cover image HOW TOUGH COULD IT BE? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad

HOW TOUGH COULD IT BE? The Trials and Errors of a Sportswriter Turned Stay-at-Home Dad

Austin Murphy, . . Holt, $23 (239pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7480-2

Murphy (The Sweet Season ) has been a Sports Illustrated staffer since 1984, covering everything from football and swimsuits to the Tour de France and the Olympics. Unfortunately, while globe-hopping and meeting deadlines, he was missing key events in the lives of his young children. A six-month sabbatical enabled him to explore a new, unfamiliar lifestyle as a Marin County Mr. Mom, while his wife "flung herself into her long-neglected writing career." Murphy soon found himself donning oven mitts, picking up dry cleaning, buying toothpaste and tampons, housecleaning, slicing onions (and fingers), carpooling to the elementary school and folding laundry. Despite pointers from his wife, meals remained a challenge: "There is homework enforcement and, if I'm on the ball, the preparing of tomorrow's lunches while cooking tonight's dinner." Skilled at capturing human interest details, Murphy writes in a fluid, anecdotal manner, displaying a sensitivity and homey humor that will be equally appreciated by men and women. Female readers will smile with satisfaction as Murphy attempts anger management while confronting "unpaid work to which there is no end." Asked how "the Experiment" is going, he compares it "to entering the ring with the unseen adversary. I never know where the next blow will come from." At the end of the six months, Murphy realizes he's "now equipped to be a bigger help for the remainder of our days together.... If I am not, like Thomas, a 'very useful engine,' I am at least a more useful engine than I was." Agent, David Black. (May 3)

Forecast: Murphy will try to attract both dads and moms (and capitalize on their respective holidays) with an author tour and Internet marketing.