May 7, 2019
(Original Publication August 27, 2012)
Blurb: Things My Son Needs to Know About the World collects the personal dispatches from the front lines of one of the most daunting experiences any man can experience: fatherhood.
As he conveys his profound awe at experiencing all the “firsts” that fill him with wonder and catch him completely unprepared, Fredrik Backman doesn’t shy away from revealing his own false steps and fatherly flaws, tackling issues both great and small, from masculinity and mid-life crises to practical jokes and poop.
In between the sleep-deprived lows and wonderful highs, Backman takes a step back to share the true story of falling in love with a woman who is his complete opposite, and learning to live a life that revolves around the people you care about unconditionally. Alternating between humorous side notes and longer essays offering his son advice as he grows up and ventures out into the world, Backman relays the big and small lessons in life, including:
-How to find the team you belong to
-Why airports explain everything about religion and war
-The reason starting a band is crucial to cultivating and keeping friendships
-How to beat Monkey Island 3
-Why, sometimes, a dad might hold onto his son’s hand just a little too tight
This is an irresistible and insightful collection, perfect for new parents and fans of Backman’s “unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness). As he eloquently reminds us, “You can be whatever you want to be, but that’s nowhere near as important as knowing that you can be exactly who you are.”
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
Without a doubt, Fredrik Backman is my favorite current writer of literary fiction and now I can officially say that I’ve read all of his books as Things My Son Needs to Know About the World was the hold-out. Originally published in 2012, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is a group of essays with some short anecdotes and observations in between.
The very first essay is about poop. And I was having breakfast. And the two didn’t mesh–well. But I could see the funny bits about it, even as I was slightly grossed-out. The second essay was about IKEA. And I felt it was repetitive and then I grew worried about the review that was forming in my head because this felt like Backman was trying too hard to be funny or make points or something.
Maybe it was the translation.
Or maybe it was me and my reading of those first two essays.
Today, knowing that I really needed to get the book done, I read all the rest of the essays with little interruption. I was charmed and laughed. This was the Backman that shows up in subsequent books. He is funny and outrageous, insightful and self-deprecating. Not every joke or anecdote scores, at least not for me, but most do.
This parenthood thing didn’t come with instructions, that’s all I’m saying.
You spit on the napkin,
Then you wipe the child’s face with the napkin. You don’t spit straight onto the child.
I do hope that he finds a better diet than sausages cooked in butter and oil with bacon and cheese put into a cutout baguette with fried onions, mayonnaise, and Bearnaise sauce because really we need to have his writing around for a very, very long time. He sees the humor in impossible situations but also manages to offer keen insights. He is also a man who isn’t afraid to declare how much his wife and child truly mean to him. These essays are guaranteed to make you think or laugh, or both.
I would recommend Things My Son Needs to Know About the World for Backman aficionados, new parents, and people who enjoy physical humor.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies