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Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood Hardcover – February 5, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Screenwriter, author and Los Angeles resident Ellis (Right Here, Right Now) relates his story of heartbreak and child-rearing with candor, comedy and self-awareness, making this emotionally turbulent ride instantly and tirelessly engaging. The conversational chronicle tells how young African-American novelist Ellis met and lost his wife (to a New Age shaman), leaving him to deal, often on his own, with a three-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son. Fast-paced and fun, Ellis's story indulges readers with hilarious details from all aspects of the single-dad life, from nannies to schools to his crazy ex, from his writing career to his sex life, taking playful detours along the way for daydreams and song lyrics ("It's so hard trying to remember what it was like those first nights... alone singing my kids the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show"). Ellis also incorporates stories from his "often-depressed, cartoonishly nerdly" childhood years, revealing the ins and outs of his parents' own "shitty marriage." A first-rate story-teller with an effortless sense of humor and pathos ("I have always been a big fan of self-pity"), Ellis and his memoir deserve a place among pop culture's most beloved Mr. Moms.
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Review

“A moving, funny, down-to-earth, sexy and delightful account of a uniquely caring, passionate and eloquent father's journey into and through single fatherhood -- a great gift for anyone who values the true dramas of committed parenting.” ―Naomi Wolf
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Times; 1st edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594865299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594865299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,642,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on May 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Trey Ellis has a big heart. A really, really big heart, and on most every page of this excellent, thoughtful, tender memoir, he shares how it's been gutted, delighted, and filled with love largely for his two children, Ava and Chet. He throws himself into each of his love affairs as if it will be his last, and never apologizes for his often grandiose visions. It's hard to not see those romantic visions as feminine on some level, perhaps because we're so used to women being the ones thinking of marriage on first sight. Ellis's descriptions of his own leaps into head over heels love and lust are told in a way that both gently mocks him as well as celebrates his sense of romantic adventure. He may know that dashing off to Europe to woo a woman is unrealistic, but that never stops him from doing it.

To Ellis's credit, he never once bashes his ex-wife, even though his sometime exasperation with her mania comes through. It's clear that he still feels connected with her, in a healthy way, as the mother of his children, and their ongoing negotiations about schedules and rules form the backbone of his other relationships. The children come first and it's clear that perhaps even more than Ellis was born to be a writer, he was born to be a parent. The rhythms and responsibilities of fatherhood seem to come like second nature to him, and his keen observation of his kids' needs doesn't need to be overstated (maybe we can be spared any more memoirs that talk endlessly about sippy cups and bottles?).

Ellis doesn't present his tale in an entirely straightforward manner, nor does he always make it easy for readers.
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Format: Hardcover
In his memoir, Trey Ellis chronicles his glamorous -- and not so glamorous -- life as a newly divorced dad learning to navigate L.A.'s dating scene between bake sales and potty training, screenwriting and co-parenting. Despite being a single parent myself, I wasn't sure at first I'd be able to relate to Trey's experiences -- especially after reading on the book jacket that "his dates have included a model, a French actress, and even an Italian contessa." I think I've only dated royalty of the delusional variety.

But Trey's account of balancing romantic yearnings with his roles as a devoted father to his two young children, and civil ex-husband to his New Age/new name ex-wife, is 100% down-to-earth, funny and heartfelt. He weaves his tales of dating with snippets of parenting and, occasionally, more painful memories of losing his parents at a young age and battling serious illness. The result is a view into what it's like to be single again: trying to forgive the past while juggling excitement, insecurity and hope for a new, uncertain future. I could relate to his experiences a lot -- even living miles (and worlds) away from L.A. And the monarchy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book, not least because I was considering taking a workshop with Trey Ellis this summer and thought it would be prudent to read some of his own writing before accepting my place on the course. After finishing Bedtime Stories I declined the offer.
In Ellis' defense, this book was written before the deluge of parent bloggers hit the interwebs and the public consciousness, and no doubt some of the revelations regarding diaper changes, mountains of infant s***, and the tribulations of managing small children alone seemed fresher, more entertaining and less hackneyed than they do now. However, even if one takes that into account, I found myself constantly wondering when we were going to get to the point of the book. It was clear that he felt lost and alone, confused and frightened, alternately desperately horny and utterly uninterested in sex without a romantic connection (though true intimacy seems to escape him throughout the book for reasons that go unexplored, though frequently lamented). We are taken through a number of relationships with impossibly beautiful women, none of whom seem quite real. In fact part of the problem is that nobody in the book has any depth of character except the author himself, and even he is taken up with describing his neuroses and anxieties rather than actually genuinely looking at what might lie under them. Perhaps this is why it gets rather dull - it's the same story several times over. Overall it seemed a self-indulgent book and one that could have done with some significant editing.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read Ellis's "Home Repairs," which was a very funny but very male look at lovin', but I can see this one having a lot more crossover appeal. In fact, it's so "in touch with its emotions" that women readers might actually be in the majority. It's about how Ellis recovers from the crushing blow of his wife leaving him with two very young kids, and how he gradually gets back into the dating game despite overwhelming parental obligations. It's not like one of those books where the guy has been married so long that he can't relate to the dating scene, which always seems kind of bogus to me. No, the guy from Home Repairs has a nice line in overly thought-out seduction technique. His problem is the intrusion of his kids, for whom he is solely in charge and who are clearly the priority of his life, upon his attempts to a) get laid and b) find lasting romance. All in all, a fresh and funny take on a subject a lot of us might speculate upon if not actually being unfortunate enough to have to go through it ourselves.
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