When he became a father, Michael Lewis found himself expected to feel things that he didn't feel, and to do things that he couldn't see the point of doing. At first, this made him feel guilty, until he realized that all around him fathers were pretending to do one thing, to feel one way, when in fact they felt and did all sorts of things, then engaged in what amounted to an extended cover-up.
Michael decided to keep a written record of what actually happened immediately after the birth of each of his three children. The book is that record. But it is also something else: maybe the funniest, most unsparing account of ordinary daily household life ever recorded from the point of view of the man inside. The remarkable thing about this story isn't that Lewis is so unusual. It's that he is so typical. It's a wonder that his wife has allowed him to publish it.
Home Game is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable and satisfying books I’ve ever listened to, evoking the early comedy albums of Bill Cosby not only for the wise and testosterone-fueled insights on parenting offered by author Michael Lewis, but for the excellent comic timing and hilarious mimicry employed by the narrator, Dan John Miller.
Lewis chronicles his life as a father dividing time according to the appearance of each child: Quinn, Dixie, and baby boy Walker. Less as a protagonist than an impassioned fan, he observes the birth of his family blow-by-blow, and lucky for us, replete with sound effects. Wife Tabitha’s oxygen-mask-muffled pleas in the delivery room, the discomforting words of the obstetrician, the indignant back-seat declaration of his displaced first-born that “My daddy is dead,” all these voices are cake in Miller’s capable vocal chords. He even manages to convey that climactic moment of birth, described by Lewis as “...the sound of a hairless dog escaping from quicksand”, with a loud swish-suck-pop! using only (hopefully) his mouth.
Lewis’ genius resides in his ability to relate the confluence of love and pride, horror and exhaustion, that comes with the active participation in growing little human beings. In the daily grind he discovers the long secret of motherhood: “It’s only in caring for a thing that you become attached to it.” But it’s the particular vulnerability of a man journeying through this still foreign territory, and his humorous and unself-conscious commentary on it all, that Lewis brings to the conversation and which Miller communicates so convincingly.
I guess I’m just envious when Miller, as Lewis, proudly confesses that, “My main ambition when my wife went into labor was to be sober.” Or, reminisces without shame about the day he took the four and six year-olds to the racetrack. (Okay, they did win.) Or, when he expresses with glee, “Good! The little monsters are gone for the day,” when his daughters are kept out of the house for 12 hours straight to be the flowergirls in a neighbor’s wedding.
Home Game is an excellent companion for any harried parent ferrying their unruly charges to and from school, soccer, and various playdates: a perfectly legal, aural cocktail for the car. I listened to each chapter at least two times, the last chapter on Lewis’ vasectomy more than twice. Not just for the image of a grown man contemplating “a good ball shaving from a woman that didn’t look you in the eye”, or his description of the aftermath as his “shaved goolies” but to be able to hear Miller urgently scream, “They’re going to cut a hole in my johnson!” again and again. Lisa Duggan
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