Photo: Shutterstock Â© Dubova
In a shrewd campaign move forty years ago this month, the sitting president of the United States designated the third SundayÂ in June to commemorate â€śthe love and gratitude we bear to our fathers.â€ť Unfortunately, the announcement coincided with news of a mysterious break-in at the Watergate office complex. Richard Nixon might not be remembered as the â€śFather of Fatherâ€™s Day,â€ť but the holiday has survived and thrived despite its founderâ€™s foibles. Hereâ€™s a list of titles specially curated for dads who might revel in that bit of trivia as much as they enjoy settling into a hammock and a hardback.
1. For Fathers Who Revere the Man Known as Papa
â€śHemingwayâ€™s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961â€ťÂ by Paul Hendrickson
Ernest Hemingway was the ultimate manâ€™s man, a globe-hopping force of nature who reveled in writing, fishing, imbibing, fighting, fornicating, and failing in his paternal duties. Or so thatâ€™s the story thatâ€™s been told. Hendricksonâ€™s award-winning biography is an illuminating portrayal of Hemingway, showing a complicated man who was capable of great compassion, not just familial terror. In particular, the book highlights dad's complicated relationship with his cross-dressing son Gigi, of which Hendrickson says: â€śAmid so much ruin, still the beauty.â€ť Crafting the narrative around Hemingwayâ€™s beloved 38-ft. fishing boat, Pilar, is a stroke of genius. Itâ€™s a perfect metaphor for Hemingwayâ€™s heroic/tragic life, and a brilliant vessel for readers who want a deeper understanding of the flawed father figure known as Papa.
2. For Fathers Who Love Animals, the Earth, and/or Eccentric Zookeepers
William Temple Hornaday isnâ€™t a household name, but outside of Theodore Roosevelt, nobody did more for animal preservation in the nineteenth century United States. Hornaday was a big-game hunter who scouted the last bison in Montana and went on to save the species. An eco-awakening saw him go from killing tigers in Borneo to founding the National Zoo in Washington D.C., running the Bronx Zoo for thirty years, and waging â€śPlume Warsâ€ť against the nefarious feathered-hat industry. Bechtelâ€™s tale shows the contradictions of an enigmatic man, one who kept the Alaskan fur seal alive, but also featured an African man in a zoo exhibit. Like so many other creatures roaming the planet, Hornaday had his flaws, but he shouldn't be forgotten.
3. For Fathers Who Still Think Dinosaurs Are Like, the Coolest Things Ever
â€śTyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of Largest, Most Fought Over T. Rex Ever Foundâ€ťÂ by Steve Fiffer
This rollicking book is the tale of Sue, a T. Rex discovered in South Dakota in 1990. Named for Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who found her (along with partner Peter Larson), itâ€™s the biggest and best-preserved T. Rex fossil to date. It was an incredible discovery that kick-started an even more incredible saga, one that brought a majestic prehistoric beast face-to-face with modern legal weasels. Sueâ€™s story incorporates the local Sioux, the FBI, Chicagoâ€™s Field Museum, Sothebyâ€™s, McDonaldâ€™s, courtrooms, jails, and bags and bags of money. Itâ€™s John Grisham inÂ Jurassic Park, except itâ€™s all true. All Sue.
4. For Fathers Who Just Want to Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends
â€śJohn, Paul, George, Ringo & Meâ€ťÂ by Tony Barrow
Fifty years ago, Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, and the world of popular music would never be the same. The Clash were wrong. Beatlemania never bit the dust; itâ€™s become a cottage industry thatâ€™s outlived half the band. Now â€śJohn, Paul, George, Ringo & Me,â€ť a memoir by Tony Barrow, the bandâ€™s press agent from 1962-68, joins the canon. During his years with the â€śFab Fourâ€ť (a moniker coined by Barrow), they went from the clean-cut kids of â€śLove Me Doâ€ť to the world-dominating psychedelics of â€śLucy in the Sky With Diamonds.â€ť Barrowâ€™s book is full of amazing moments, from their famous Shea Stadium show, to a party with Elvis, to Lennonâ€™s emotional press conference after declaring the band bigger than Jesus. Barrow isnâ€™t just a paperback writer, he's an insider eyewitness to the Beatles, eight days a week.
5. For Fathers Who Feel Theyâ€™re Missing Out on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
â€śThe Book of Viceâ€ťÂ by Peter Sagal
Raising kids right is the highest fatherly virtue, but it doesnâ€™t exactly provide the illicit kicks of a lost night like theÂ The Hangover'sÂ Wolfpack endured. As a wise man once said, better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, but thatâ€™s just not possible when the weekendâ€™s activities are structured around pediatric appointments and karate lessons. Enter Peter Sagal, host of the down-and-dirty NPR showÂ Wait Wait...Donâ€™t Tell Me!Â A mild-mannered family man,Â Sagal wants know what heâ€™s missing out in his staid existence, so heÂ wades deep into dens of iniquity. He checks in on a San Francisco sex club (public foursomes!), a swingerâ€™s party (banal as a potluck, minus the copulation), Vegas (nothingÂ reallyÂ happens) and a porn shoot (â€śSilence. Then: the squishing sounds.â€ť) Sagalâ€™s schtick is a lot of fun -- if stretched a bit thin -- but ultimately supports your average Joe lifestyle. Yes, porn stars want to be in bed... at home, sleeping peacefully, just like everyone else.
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