Sunday, 23 June 2013

Someone Could Get Hurt by Drew Magary

Lowdown: A dramatic/comedic first base examination of the experience of parenting babies and young children in the USA.
Veterans of my blogs will know I had spent many a post on the frustrations of parenthood. Most notably, I divulged on the differences between the expectations I had and the expectations society led me to have and the contrast between those and what parenting a young child is actually like. In other words, raising a child means dealing with shit – literally. I even ventured to start a brand new blog dedicated to this matter alone but then quickly retreated as I realized the return on investment is inferior compared to other ventures of mine (like video games).
One guy for whom the return on investment from recounting his parental experiences is obviously much higher, probably due to him being a much better writer than yours truly (by a few orders of magnitude), is American Drew Magary. Not only is Magary good at writing, he’s also good at parenting, or at least at replicating, having chosen to bring three children to the world. And in his latest book, Someone Could Get Hurt, he provides an account of the resulting experience. An account which he chooses to share with us through a collection of short stories, some times snippets, of some special parental experiences. The beauty of this particular affair is to do with two factors: first, Magary does not shy from telling things the way they are (oh, what a rare and noble feat!). And second, Magary’s sense of humor managed to make me LOL on the crowded trains at an unprecedented pace. This book knocked me out [laughing], literally.
Our story begins at the birth of Magary’s third son, where a collection of medical emergencies meant that newborn’s early start at life was less than tranquil. In many respects it was similar to my own son’s. Then we flash back to Magary’s first born, to hear a thing or two about the shocking experience that is having a baby at home. Later we are introduced to his second born, thus adding the element of interaction between the two kids. Eventually, we go back to the third’s hospital story. Can’t accuse Magary for failing to frame his tale properly.
Thus far I touched on the authenticity and on the humor of Someone Could Get Hurt, but I haven’t on what is probably its most important attribute: the ability of any parent (with the qualification of any Western parent) to identify with at least some of Magary’s stories. It can happen through common tragedies, like those Magary experienced with his third; it can happen through witty references Magary makes, such as his casual reference to the "parking lot of death" which caught my attention because crossing too many a parking lot really does feel like a death wish when done with little kids. But mostly it was him referring to specific children related issues that most of us parents have encountered somewhere along the way: things like children's inability to tolerate you, the parent, talking to someone else and not them. Or things like getting warned by a doctor that saw your child for two minutes and claims the child might have a flat head, sending the ignorant parents deep into the Internet for research and causing much anxiety - almost always unnecessary anxiety. The number of parents I know who received flat head warnings from pediatricians at some point or another is pretty close to the number of parents I know, period; of those, only one couple had to take actual measures, and even then I'm not sure there was a point to it.
All factors combined, Someone Could Get Hurt could serve as a real life guide to parenthood. Nothing like the serious, preachy stuff that we read out of guilt so we could allow ourselves to think that we did the right thing by our children and did try to be good parents, but rather a guide to the practical stuff that's involved with parenthood. As in, a book that clearly tells you there is no way you'd be able to get it all right, that you will be doing lots of stupid mistakes, but also a book that tells you that at the end those things don't really matter. And for that simple conclusion, and by arriving at that simple conclusion in such an entertaining way, Someone Could Get Hurt jumps to the top of my parental "guide books" chart.
Overall: The best compliment I can give Someone Could Get Hurt is me saying I already bought a copy as a gift for a first time parent. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

No comments: