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When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood Paperback – May 6, 2014


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When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood + Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425269248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425269244
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] fabulous new anthology of fatherhood essays...A true must-read for pros and expectant parents alike. It's cutting and honest and hilarious and sad, with 22 essays from some of our best writers, such as Dennis Lehane, Justin Cronin, Lev Grossman, and many, many more...The essays are incredibly refreshing because they show fatherhood in such a vulnerable light—the good, the bad, the frustrating, and incredibly wonderful."—Parade magazine

"These gifted writers charge full-force into the heart of fatherhood…[An] impressive collection."—Publishers Weekly

"This collection could be subtitled 'Profiles in Perseverance.' These fathers have fought the battles, and we lucky readers receive this collection of wry, moving stories."—Library Journal

"We lucky readers receive this collection of wry, moving stories."—Kirkus Reviews

"A collection of luminous essays by men on parenthood that are easily read and terrifically illuminating...Full of remembrances and half-remembrances of parenting in all its glory: failure, triumph, joy, tribulation, humorous bits and tragedies big and small...Readers will laugh, or perhaps wipe a tear; parents will nod knowingly."—Shelf Awareness

About the Author

Brian Gresko is a stay-at-home dad and writer based in Brooklyn. His essays and journalism have appeared on the Huffington Post, Salon, TheAtlantic.com, the Daily Beast, the Paris Review Daily, the Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among numerous other publications. He has also contributed to Glimmer Train and Slice magazine. He keeps a daily column about dads for Babble and is currently at work on a novel.

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Customer Reviews

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A great read for fathers and mothers alike.
Chummie26
Anyone who enjoys the personal essay form, is a parent or considering parenthood, or just appreciates good stories should read this collection.
Liza Monroy
Every father should find a story they can relate too.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chummie26 on May 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's interesting -- family routines have changed so much in the last few decades, but dads' voices continue to remain notably absent from the pantheon of contemporary parenting narratives. As the mom of a young child, I've often turned to nonfiction memoirs for reassurance, advice, and amusement. There's Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother, Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, and on and on. But rarely have I had the chance to dive into anything about the experience of fatherhood (Elisha Cooper's book Crawling is the only exception I can think of at the moment.)

So I was delighted to find When I First Held You, with its rich portraits of fatherhood contributed by literary dads of every stripe. There's Bob Smith's warm, funny tale of being a queer, disabled father/"deadbeat donor" of two (he's "Bob" to them, not Dad), and a heartbreaking piece from Steve Edwards about the vast distance between prenatal fantasy and postnatal reality after his child's undiagnosed illness pushes him and his wife to the brink.

There are dads that hate to play, dads that wish their daughters would just stop talking so much, dads who have to construct fatherhood on their own terms in the wake of their own fathers' failures. There is guilt, there is worry (about safety, money, drinking too much, controlling rage), there is mourning for lost parents and grandparents and marriages and youth. But to me, this book is ultimately about joy and love, of course -- about the way that your heart opens up when your child is born and you realize, as Stephen O'Connor so aptly puts it, that you are no longer only yourself. A great read for fathers and mothers alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sara F Epstein on May 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
The authors in this anthology write eloquently and openly about being dads. As a parent (a mom!), reading these gems made me laugh, groan, and wince, but most of all made me feel connected; they give a nuanced voice to an experience shared by so many people, but rarely talked about in such an honest way. This book is perfect for dads and moms, new and well-experienced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Lee Barrett on August 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I First Held You is a refreshing, honest look at modern fatherhood as seen through the eyes of some of the best young(ish) male writers of the era. This collection of essays is not, as inferred by title, a hodgepodge collection of Gen X and Gen Y narcissism about the never ending parade of dirty diapers and hours of lost sleep and soul-draining demands from the wet-set and how all is forgiven by the chance re-discovery of the birthing video. While there is a touch of that type of narrative, as there must be, When I First Held You is an open and honest conversation about the challenges and experiences of modern fatherhood told from the perspective of fathers who were first sons. This honesty is at its peak when contributor Bruce Machart openly admits, on behalf of so many of us, that we just don't like to play. Especially with kids. Even our own. Yet we try to find the strength and energy and motivation to play with our kids, even if it seems as though it will surely be our undoing. Life and death accidents, chronic illnesses, internal struggle and external conflicts; the palette of fatherhood is found in these essays, which in turn is shared openly and mostly selflessly. This book is a great read for any member of the family.
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Format: Paperback
I'm obviously not a father, but I adore this anthology for the perspective it gives from these amazing writer-dads, and the writing. Anyone who enjoys the personal essay form, is a parent or considering parenthood, or just appreciates good stories should read this collection.
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By John L Morgan III on June 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a terrific read for fathers, sons, and anyone interested in looking back at or looking ahead to having children. The diverse mix of super-established authors builds a multi-faceted view of parenthood, its challenges and joys, and the essays are by turns surprising, tense, and thought-provoking, but they always remain engrossing. Particular highlights for me include the intro, Justin Cronin’s struggle after a terrifying near-miss car accident, Benjamin Percy’s bracing essay about his own mortality, and Rick Moody’s moving look at his failings as a father. But other readers no doubt will have their own favorites, because this is one of those unique anthologies that’s equally weighted in quality across all its terrific parts.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about being a mother and parenting in general, its ups and downs, challenges and rewards, best practices, emotional aspects, etc. I really wasn't sure if this book could give me any new thoughts I hadn't either had or heard before, but I realized that I honestly don't do much talking to dads. Not sure why. I know plenty of dads, my husband, father and brother among them, but I suppose I only really have these deep discussions about parenthood with women. I've apparently been missing out because these essays were wonderful! Thank you so much for bringing this to the world!
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