Disappointed With Daddy Lit

Davy Bry pans the recent spate of memoirs about fatherhood:

While most genre memoirs seek to explain a specific and unique experience, shared by some but not by many, the fatherhood memoir is a study of a common phenomenon. And there’s a too frequent problem with studies of this common experience. It has to do with a thing that lots of people learn when they have a kid and so find themselves sitting around with other parents talking about their kids a lot: No one is ever going to think the way your kid mispronounces words when he or she is learning to talk is as cute as you think it is. (No one except the kid’s grandparents.) So when Magary repeatedly quotes his son saying “oat-kay” instead of “okay” (“Deddy, are woo oat-kay?”) and when Price, throughout the book, has his sons refer to each other as “brudda” (“It’s OK, Big Brudda is here!”), it’s like listening to the parents on the next table over at Chuck E. Cheese’s coo babytalk and pet names at children you don’t know. Such pitfalls makes an author’s job harder—the more mundane a story a book tells, the more exceptional the telling must be. Magary endured the premature birth of a child, and a serious health crisis that followed. But neither he nor Price can claim access to parental experience that falls very far outside of the norm.