Dad’s Maybe Book

Tim O’Brien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (286p) ISBN 978-0-618-03970-8
This tender memoir begins in 2003, when 58-year-old novelist O’Brien (The Things They Carried) has a one-year-old son and another one on the way. In the format of letters to his sons, he shares the joys of fatherhood, which are muted by the prospect that his children may know him only as an old man—or not know him at all (“Life is fragile. Hearts go still”). For the next 15 years, with the ashes of his father in an urn on his bookcase, O’Brien writes for his children what he wished his father had left him: “Some scraps of paper signed ‘Love Dad’.” O’Brien covers nights of colic, basketball games, and homework battles, but this is not a compendium of cute witticisms. He taps into the dark corners of his mind, sharing an analysis of, say, the parallels between the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and his 1969 tour of duty in Vietnam’s Quang Ngai Province. He then presents a well-reasoned argument for replacing the word “war” with the phrase “killing people, including children,” and war’s impact on culture. O’Brien concludes with a humorous, moving letter of instruction for his 100th birthday. With great candor, O’Brien succeeds in conveying the urgency parents may feel at any age, as they ready their children for life without them. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/06/2019
Release date: 10/14/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-358-11671-4
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