With Fathers Day just around the corner, our favorite book critic, Ellen Heltzel, joined us with her picks for the best books to give your dad. They all give a view of the modern-day father.
- DAD AS PAL: "The Flim Club," by David Gilmour. Memoir about father who happens to be a film critic and lets slacker son drop out of school on condition that he watch three movies of his choosing every week. The deal brings Pop and teen together like no other experience could, and in the process the son matures from an aimless kid into a decent young man.
- DAD AS CAREGIVER: "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction," by David Sheff. Sheff's story is about the challenge of loving a child who seems beyond your help. In this case it was a son who, at 18, became addicted to methamphetamines. Sheff shows how his son's addiction to drugs and alcohol wreaked havoc on his family. He details his mistakes but also demonstrates the power of not giving up.
- DAD ON THE MARGINS: "The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood," by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This story about growing up as the son of a counter-culture former Black Panther has some of the rhythms of a rap song. Coates' father was lousy as a husband -- he seemed to switch women like some change suits -- but with his sons he was a tiger, fighting to keep them off the streets and find their place in the world.
- DAD AS MYSTERY: "Go Ask Your Father: One Man's Obsession with Finding His Origins Through DNA Testing," by Lennard J. Davis. In the old days, paternity was a guessing game. Now it's just a lab test away, which became important to Davis after his aging uncle claimed that he was his biological father, courtesy of artificial insemination. Proof is in the lab test that becomes part of this discussion of what genetic inheritance means, scientifically and emotionally.
- DAD AS CELEBRITY: "Losing Mum and Pup," by Christopher Buckley. The only child of conservative commentator William Buckley and socialite Pat Buckley reports on his life with them in a memoir that's alternately witty and wrenching. Conclusion: People with bigger-than-life personalities make better party guests than they do parents.
- DAD ON THE EDGE: "My Abandonment," by Peter Rock. This novel by a Reed College professor (previously applauded by AM NW host Helen Raptis) is taken from the local headlines and tells the fictionalized story of the father and daughter who were found making their home in Forest Park. A touching tribute to parent-child devotion in the oddest of circumstances, with a motherless household that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy's novel/movie "The Road."
For more about Ellen Heltzel and her book, "Between the Covers," click here.