From Publishers Weekly
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."
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Murphy, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, has a way-cool gig, covering all the major sports, but he decided to take a six-month sabbatical as a stay-at-home dad while his wife pursued her career, also as a writer. The result is hardly a surprise: Murphy learns that domestic engineering is a tough job and that mixing love with discipline is even tougher. There are the usual comic set pieces involving off-to-school chaos and terrible dinners, but somehow Murphy keeps it fresh with self-deprecating humor, a genuine desire to connect with his kids on a higher plane than middle-aged playmate, and a crisp style that incorporates some of the absurdist sensibilities of Dave Barry. Despite Murphy's Sports Illustrated connection, the target audience here is the off-the-sports-page crowd. Don't be surprised if Murphy turns up on The View singing the praises of enlightened parenthood. Wes Lukowsky
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