Look no further for a Father’s Day gift for dear old dad: these novels depict fatherhood in all its complexities.
1. About A Boy by Nick Hornby
“Will Freeman may have discovered the key to dating success: If the simple fact that they were single mothers meant that gorgeous women – women who would not ordinarily look twice a Will – might not only be willing, but enthusiastic about dating him, then he was really onto something. Single mothers – bright, attractive, available women – thousands of them, were all over London. He just had to find them.
“SPAT: Single Parents – Alone Together. It was a brilliant plan. And Will wasn’t going to let the fact that he didn’t have a child himself hold him back. A fictional two-year-old named Ned wouldn’t be the first thing he’d invented. And it seems to go quite well at first, until he meets an actual twelve-year-old named Marcus, who is more than Will bargained for.”
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
“The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, ‘each the other’s world entire,’ are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.”
3. Made to Break Your Heart by Richard Fellinger
“A family saga, set in a gossipy suburb, that explores the complexities of raising a child, holding a marriage together, and maintaining your sanity in the cutthroat world of Little League baseball.
“It’s 2008, and Nick Marhoffer is a stressed-out dad who finds himself flirting with thoughts of infidelity. While his job is being threatened by a crumbling economy, he’s fraught with anxiety over his only son’s well-being. So when his son starts playing baseball, Nick becomes a rabid Little League dad who loses sight of what’s good in his life. After developing a crush on a gorgeous team mom, he can’t decide between her and his wife, then finds himself at risk of losing everything that’s most important to him.
“This is a smart, sexy, and funny novel about bad breaks, bad decisions, and the long road of life.”
4. Independence Day by Richard Ford
“Frank Bascombe is no longer a sportswriter, yet he’s still living in Haddam, New Jersey, where he now sells real estate. He’s still divorced, though his ex-wife, to his dismay, has remarried and moved, along with their two children, to Connecticut. (He bought her old house and made it his home.) In the midst of his so-called Existence Period, Frank is happy enough in his peculiar way, more or less sheltered from fresh pain and searing regret.
“And he has high hopes for this 4th of July weekend (while the nation lurches toward another election, Bush vs. Dukakis, in uncertain prosperity). As a Realtor he’s seeking a house and a life’s accommodation for deeply hapless clients relocating from Vermont; in his free time he takes pride in managing his entrepreneurial, and civic, sidelines. Then he will travel to the Jersey Shore, where his girlfriend and delight awaits him. Finally, up the Northeast Corridor, to Connecticut, there to pick up his larcenous and emotionally troubled teenage son, and together they will visit as many sports halls of fame as they can in two days.
“But Frank’s Independence Day turns out not as he’d planned. This decent, appealingly bewildered, profoundly observant man is wrenched, gradually and inevitably, out of his private refuge. And in this embattled ascent Richard Ford captures the mystery of life –in all its conflicted glory– with grand humor, intense compassion and transfixing power.”
5. The World According to Garp by John Irving
“This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields–a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes–even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries–with more than ten million copies in print–this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”