Friday, June 19, 2009

Schwapp Book Review: PACIFY ME

Those of you who have followed the blog since its launch might remember a review I did on a collection of shorts by comedian/writer/director/etc Chris Mancini. It was a very positive review. That experience led me to receive a review copy of his new book about impending doom and the aspects of fatherhood that take place after the doom has settled in. I've really wanted to get a review up on this weeks ago, but all of a sudden found myself having much less time to read than expected. So it is with apologies that I'm just getting to this now.

In reading this book, despite not having children or anticipating any news of some on the way, I immediately felt that I was smack dab in the middle of the audience it was targeted towards. There are so many references to genres I follow (sci-fi, comics, etc) that it I swear I could see the red dot of a laser sight right on my chest. The sex talk, jokes, jokes about sex and assorted other "guy talk" stuff casts a wider net that I just so happen to fall into, as well.

Mancini still manages to keep the focus on the many stages of fatherhood he's experienced thus far. All of the above references and angles I mentioned occur naturally within the course of relating his story to the reader. While there are a few times where you can clearly see an attempt to go for the funny, it never distracts from the topic at hand. In fact, there are relatively few times where you can see effort being made as much as you can just get the laugh.

But it is, also, a refreshingly open and honest book. Mancini talks about how the anxiety over having a child can stem from it being a lifestyle change that you're committed to for life. He shares how much time passed after his daughter's birth before he was struck with the love that many others describe manifesting the first moment you see your child.

I have to be honest: as Chris Mancini is a stand-up and comic writer, I really didn't expect the book to be this revelatory or sage; I just expected the funny. But I'll be damned if it didn't eventually sneak up on me that I was reading an actual practical handbook for new dads disguised as a humor book. Well, it actually says "a handbook for the freaked-out new dad" on the front cover, but that could have just been part of the gag...

Another bit of a confession: I had expected that the book would lose me a bit after it got out of the pre-birth anxiety chapters. My thinking was that us non-parents can definitely understand the panic of a child coming into your life, but not so much the day-to-day stuff that comes after their arrival. I don't know if I underestimated myself or the author, but everything from daycare selection to baby-proofing still managed to draw me in.

Now, I'd love to say that this would be a great Father's Day gift for a father that has actually seen his first child enter the world. Problem is: I'm not quite qualified to make that judgement. I strongly believe that that established dads will enjoy the book for its humor, wisdom and common sense as much as I enjoyed the opening chapters that dealt with how childless man tends to see parenthood. I didn't need Mancini to tell me that the panic about fatherhood is it being the ultimate commitment, but I sure enjoyed reading his take on it. So, I'd imagine, a father with several years under his belt will still enjoy all the parts warning about how hormonal the mother will be, even if they've been there and done that.

As often is said regarding many forms of entertainment: it's all in the execution. PACIFY ME is meant to entertain and advise. It does this job perfectly and would highly recommend it to a lot of guys out there, especially ones that are taking time out of their day to read a blog that mainly covers comic books and movies as, if you'll look down slowly, there's the red beam of a laser sight...

(blurry cell phone photos as an answer to a concern the author had regarding his book being displayed at book stores; indeed, it was out as part of a "Dads & Grads" display at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago)

1 comment:

  1. Good write up, I'll definitely check this book out--probably the perfect length for the plane ride to San Diego this year. Thanks!



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