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on May 12, 2008
I was very excited for this compilation -- most of my year is spent buying grad school text books and things I don't necessarily deem "fun." On top of that, I really wanted all of these authors to succeed. Several of the authors' blogs are on my most-read list, and a couple of them are individuals whose words have really touched me in times when I needed it most (Heather Armstrong is one of those authors).

Unfortunately, in many cases that did not translate to the printed page. I was disappointed that much of Armstrong's contribution was published on her blog (for free, as someone previously noted), and Alice Bradley's essay in WonderTime, to which I subscribe. That eliminated quite a bit of the best writing in this book. I enjoyed a few of the other essays, but several just seemed to hint that perhaps the editor was hesitant to edit these online celebrities... or the essays were beyond saving, regardless of editing.

The fact that I was able to support these folks in what they aspire to do, however, still makes me happy. To those who comment on Dooce's "self-promotion," she's a business woman whose commodity happens to be herself and her words. She's entitled to promote herself. While I don't consider myself a diligent Dooce devotee, her words have pulled me through difficult times as a mother and I respect the ambition she and Jon Armstrong have in tailoring their family according to THEIR rules. These reviews are not intended to rate your feelings about Heather Armstrong (if they were, I'd tack on another star). They should rate the work.
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on May 2, 2008
I'll admit to be intrigued by the concept of this book: a collection of essays by different bloggers on the topic of fathers (not necessarily fatherhood, per se) that was then edited by Heather Armstrong.

After having read it, I'll also admit that I found it uneven, probably because the writers all have such unique voices and I am not a fan of each and every person included in the book. My favorite essay is by Doug French of Laid Off Dad fame and for that essay alone I would encourage others to purchase (or at the very least, read) this book. The letter to his sons on the eve of his divorce is incredibly moving.

There were several other essays that were quite well written as well and others that just did not resonate with me. Essentially, if you enjoy reading certain blogs, then you will enjoy reading the longer essays by the authors of those blogs.
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on May 6, 2008
I was disappointed in the book, I'll admit it. At times reading the essasys felt like déjà vu, as a lot of the meat in some of the works had been featured previously on their personal websites. Both of Heather Armstrong's essays have, in part, been featured on her blog (Dooce) before.

Since I knew the outcome of the stories a lot of the excitement was lost. I was hoping for a new voice from her and it wasn't there. Especially considering this was her book, I expected the most from her (perhaps somewhat unfairly.) True, collections often feature writing that has been showcased elsewhere, And each writer that pulls from their own material, does add to it, but it didn't quite work as a whole.

This is not true, however, of all of the pieces. I truly enjoyed Doug French (of Laid off Dad, whose blog I had not read before this) and Jim Griffioen (of Sweet-Juniper, whose blog I do read) as stand alone works.

There are other strong essays in the collection, but none that rival Doug or Jim's. The other stronger essays felt like great blog pieces, but only average non-fiction pieces.

If you enjoy the bloggers featured in the book, I think you will enjoy the book. And it is worth purchasing just to support the bloggers and writers you enjoy on a daily basis. But this isn't a book I will keep coming back to.

The book simply doesn't stand alone as a collection (Doug & Jim's pieces are the exceptions.) Without the back story of the bloggers the book lacks real substance and makes it an unlikely gift, which is unfortunate.

And I know this is super picky, but the pull out quotes throughout the book drove me mad.
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on May 2, 2008
I think, overall, this was an enjoyable book. It wasn't meant to change the world, and it didn't, but I was able to bring out at least one chuckle or smile from myself with every essay. I'm familiar with the editor's website and by association, the small little circle of bloggers that seem to make up the authorship of this book. As on the web, I enjoy some more than others, and so a reader looking to buy this book may wish to peruse some of the blogs first before committing to the book to get a feel for what it will be like. On the negative side, this group of essays seems to be written in a way that suggests the reader should be silently impressed by the hip, modern turn of the phrases and the intelligentsia-ironica-sarcastica tone so prevalent in their writing. And yet, to their credit, sometimes the authors nail a thought or a sentence just so and the otherwise heavy-handed affectation can be forgiven. The essays read and feel like lengthy blog entries, which is to be expected since the authors all dabble in that genre. This isn't a criticism, though - more an observation that it is difficult for me to raise the authors above the title of blogger. Perhaps because some pieces have that unfinished, unpolished feel of a blog post. But as I said above, all in all, this is an enjoyable read and a fine effort.
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on May 3, 2008
I have been reading Heather Armstrong's website for 5 years and have enjoyed the blogs of several of the other writers involved in this book. I was excited to see these bloggers try and hone their stories into compelling essays.
Sadly, I think most of the stories miss the mark. All of the stories would make for fantastic blog entries but frankly, I expect a little more than that from the books I read. I expect a book to be well edited, have made good aesthetic choices and that each author have something new to say using precise, unique language. Most of these stories are lacking on at least one point.
I still think the book is an accomplishment for these bloggers, I'm always glad to see them being taken more seriously and hopefully by reading this book you'll be exposed to a worthwhile new-to-you blogger.
However I think the truth is that most bloggers are not writers. Blogging and writing are different skills in my mind and I think some of the bloggers should stick to their medium.
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on May 10, 2008
Reads like a bunch of high school essays for the most part. The one I enjoyed was from Laid Off Dad-very touching. If you want to read gems dropping from the MacBook of Ms. Armstrong, I suggest reading her blog for free instead of spending money on this uneven collection.
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on May 31, 2008
As an avid reader of Dooce.com I had every intention of loving this book to death, what I ended up reading were a bunch of good, mild short essays that honestly didn't make me laugh out loud one single time. There are a few heartwarming ones and a few chuckles here and there, but I had higher expectations for this book and they just weren't met. Also there are a bunch of grammatical editing errors in the book as well that the more discerning eye will find annoying...My advice is to give this a read...if you get it as a gift.
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on May 9, 2008
I read this whole book in about 1.5 hours. I will admit to skimming some parts, parts that were seen before in blog entries. It was like reconstituted writing and that actully irritated me, I paid to read things I could get for free on the net. Wow I sound like Homer in the beginning of the Simpson's movie.

The only essay that really stood out as awesome was the author Jim Griffioen (of Sweet-Juniper) that one gave me goosebumps and made me cheer for him. The rest screamed, "I'm a friend of the editor."

This reminds me of my old high school newspaper mostly when I was the editorial editor. It was put together always on stressful deadline, it was full of budding talent but no Hemingway's or even Grisham level for sure.

I know some of these people have writing gigs besides their blogs, but I'm thinking blog writers don't do so well in print. Don't give up your day jobs guys.
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on June 9, 2008
Some of the essays are excellent, some mediocre at best. Better editing would have been a bonus.
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on April 29, 2008
I've been a reader of Heather's for years and have enjoyed her work immensely. I have appreciated her heartfelt and honest approach to parenting, life, and cabbage.

I also enjoyed this book and the essays contained within. It's thoughtful, honest, and funny. What a great father's day gift for her dad, and mine.
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