Man of the House

( 3 )

Overview

For more than a decade, Linc Menner has raised the status of househusband to an art form. . . .

While his wife, Jo, brings home the bacon, Linc Menner holds down the fort–his gourmet cooking is sublime, his cleaning unrivaled, and his devotion to his daughter, Violet, unparalleled.

But when the Menners relocate from upstate New York to the steamy beaches of Naples, Florida, life takes an unexpected turn. As the Menners renovate their new home ...

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Man of the House

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Overview

For more than a decade, Linc Menner has raised the status of househusband to an art form. . . .

While his wife, Jo, brings home the bacon, Linc Menner holds down the fort–his gourmet cooking is sublime, his cleaning unrivaled, and his devotion to his daughter, Violet, unparalleled.

But when the Menners relocate from upstate New York to the steamy beaches of Naples, Florida, life takes an unexpected turn. As the Menners renovate their new home Linc’s bliss turns into a war zone of contractors, dry wall dust, and chaos. And suddenly being surrounded by guys whose faces go blank as he expounds on the virtues of lump-free gravy makes Linc realize he has forgotten what it feels like to be a man.

So Linc trades his flip-flops for work boots, and his wild mop of hair for a barbershop buzz, and marches his flabby physique to the nearest gym–attracting the secret devotion of one of Violet’s teacher in the process. And his stunned family watches helplessly as they lose the man who keeps them all together. To make matters worse, it’s hurricane season and there’s a category 5 heading right for Naples. As life on the home front explodes into hilarity and catastrophe, Linc must chart his own delightfully crooked course to finally become the Man of the House.

Praise for Ad Hudler’s Househusband

“With self-deprecating humor and adroit expression, Hudler delves deep into the American psyche of gender roles. . . . The dialogue rings with authenticity.”
–The State (Columbia, S.C.)

“Winning . . . [a] breezy comic outing.”
–The New York Times

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This breezy follow-up to Househusband follows Linc Menner, a stay-at-home dad whose home renovation project suddenly makes him long for a life less momlike. Linc has always been the full-time dad and felt content driving his "Man Van" to chauffeur daughter Violet around as his wife, Jo, works demanding hours as a hospital administrator. However, insecurities begin to brew beneath Linc's calm, even-keeled demeanor as Violet enters adolescence, causing Linc to feel less indispensable. Finally, when Linc overhears an obnoxious comment by a subcontractor, he questions his masculinity, leading him on a hell-bent journey from one masculine signifier to another, culminating in some realizations and life lessons, including "women are cool-they talk about things that matter." Clunky lines like this, coupled with an awkward narrative that jumps between four first-person points of view detract from what is overall a light diversion that should serve as a welcome treat for devotees of mom lit. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345481085
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 10.86 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Read an Excerpt

1 Linc

Let me tell you about the screwed-up state of things in our house these days. We have no kitchen. We haven’t had one for eight weeks and four days. The refrigerator is standing where a bathroom shower used to be. I am boiling my pasta and making my oatmeal on the grill on the patio. Our kitchen table changes weekly. Right now it’s the new stainless-steel dishwasher, still in the box.

Midnight peeing has become a hazardous endeavor because someone inevitably has left something in the middle of my memorized, sacred, eyes-closed path to the toilet. Nails, screws, wood splinters, gobs of caulk and Sheetrock dust litter the floors, and shoes must be worn at all times. Bathrobes, too, for the girls. We have strange men coming and going in and out all doors of our house for most of the day.

The renovation at 363 Jacaranda St. has been systemic, to say the least, and I know now that we should have moved out for the project. Jo says we still should move out for the duration of the renovation, but how much longer can it take? Staying in this war zone has become somewhat of a badge of honor with me. If we can weather this, we can weather anything, right?

We are gutting all three bathrooms down to the studs. For the time being, we shower in one bathroom, pee in another, brush our teeth in a third, and this configuration changes with each week.

We are redesigning the kitchen and great room. We are replacing all forty-two windows and five doors.

But the biggy is this: We are literally raising the roof—okay, not the roof but the ceiling—of the entire house by eight inches because at six-foot-four I feel like Gulliver in this 1952 ranch home. To do this, we are knocking out the existing ceiling and robbing some space from the attic. Can you say “old crumbling plaster”?

Have I mentioned yet that we’re living here while all this is going on?

Oh, and did I fail to say that hurricane season is just around the corner? Last year’s was the most active on record, and this year promises more of the same. As Violet would say, “Oh, joy!”

I hear the door of Rod’s truck shut outside, and I go to the window to peek out and see if my contractor has parked off the grass this time, as I asked him to do last Thursday.

Yeah, he’s good. The pickup rests an inch or two from the edge of green. His wheels are straight. Everything Rod does always looks solid, angular, sensible. I can always count on Rod. Wish I could say the same of all his subcontractors.

Rod rings the bell on the back door and comes on in, unannounced, as I’ve told him to do. I meet him in the hallway.

“Sure hope you’re a good drywaller,” I say.

Rod grimaces, then scratches at his beard. “I take it Bud didn’t show.”

“Yep,” I answer. “That guy’s allergic to punctuality if you ask me.”

“Damn.”

“Yep.”

“I wanted to get that tile started in the guest bath. Carlos is set for tomorrow.”

“Carlos?”

“My tile guy—and he’s busier than Santa Claus these days. . . . Damn!”

“What?”

“I don’t know when I can get him down here again. That Sheetrock’s got to be hung today.”

“When could you get him here if not tomorrow?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Can’t you do it?” I ask.

“Well I sure hadn’t planned on it. I’ve got to be on Marco Island at six.”

I look at my watch.

“That gives you eight hours, Rod.”

He frowns in concentration, purses his lips, then looks at his watch, which is the coolest watch on the planet. You can tell it’s as old as the hills, an analogue model with Roman numerals, the rounded, crystal face smudged with scratches accumulated over the years, all held on by a brown-leather wristband stained with sweat and speckled with paint. If the designers at Abercrombie weren’t asleep they’d already have come up with a “distressed” model of Rod Hayden’s watch.

“I’ve got a consolation prize,” I say. “You smell it?”

Rod puts his hands on his hips and lifts his nose in the air as Tillie, our cat, does when she’s trying to detect some foreign odor.

“Cherry pie?” he asks.

“Blueberry,” I answer.

Ah, my new weapon! I had been told by a friend in Rochester that the secret to getting subcontractors to show up at your house is to time the serving of aromatic baked goods with the predictable human blood-sugar crashes of midmorning and midafternoon. (Since I have no working oven right now I have to run over to Mrs. Artuzi’s house to use hers.)

I have found this to be especially true between nine and ten in the morning. Up to this point it’s worked well on Bud The Dry-waller, but now he has gone AWOL. I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that the game and fish commission lifted the ban on grouper fishing in the Gulf this week. I know he owns and loves a new twenty-four-foot Sea Ray with two four-stroke Yamaha engines. He talks about it 24-7.

As I do with all the subcontractors, I listen and pretend to be interested and ask questions and give comment—“Yeah, man, I hear ya . . . Cool, very cool . . . How fast can that go again?”—knowing that their wives couldn’t give a damn, and if I prove to be a hospitable sounding board they’ll return more often and finish their damn jobs so my family’s normalcy and happiness can be restored.

We sit down at the ersatz bar in the kitchen, an old door atop two sawhorses. I pour Rod a cup of coffee, which he likes black. I’ve always liked half-and-half in mine, but I’ve been trying it black lately and like it.

He takes a bite and leans back in the stool and closes his eyes as he chews.

“Man, is that good,” he says. “Almost as good as that peach cake-thing. Did you always cook like this?”

“You mean bake,” I say. “This isn’t cooking. There’s a big difference between cooking and baking.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

He chews and says nothing, shrugs his shoulders.

“Cooking is fluid and organic, more impromptu, like finger painting,” I say. “Baking is more exact. More like science. Or like construction. I actually like cooking better. I think it takes more creativity than baking because in baking you have to do everything exactly as the recipe says, and in cooking you’re more your own boss. You’ll be making this sauce, and you might taste it and say, hey, it needs some white wine, or some dried basil might add another dimension to this. . . . I mean, that’s not to say it’s easy. God, no, it’s not. Cooking requires some science as well. Like if you’re using cardamom pods, for example. I mean those little bastards will release their flavor only after a certain point, and then there’s a difference between the green cardamom pods and the black ones.”

Rod nods as he chews.

“And then there’s gravy. I mean that’s temperamental as hell. You’ve got to choose flour or cornstarch, and if you use flour you’ve got to make sure it cooks long enough to get that floury taste out of it, but if you cook it too hot it’ll scorch on the bottom, and then you’ve got to time it right, and let me tell you with my wife’s unpredictable schedule I don’t make much gravy, because once it’s reached boiling point it’s never the same, and I just won’t serve something past its prime. Oh, it goes in the fridge, sure, and Jo always eats it. She couldn’t care less if the food’s lost its integrity. She’ll eat anything. That may sound good, it may sound like it makes my job easier, but it’s also kind of degrading. I mean if she has no standards then why do I try so hard to make incredible meals? You know what I mean?”

I notice that Rod has accelerated his eating. His bite-size has grown as I continue talking. His plate is nearly empty.

“Do you want some more?”

He strains to swallow one last, large bite. “No, thanks. Was real good, though.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

He disappears down the hallway, wiping his hands on the back of his thighs, and as I put the dirty dishes in a tub to take outside to the hose I am wondering why I feel so stupid and vulnerable right now . . . exposed in some way, as if I’ve been caught standing at the curb in my underwear.

Which reminds me: Add toilet paper to grocery list.

Which reminds me: Get clothes to Goodwill.

Which reminds me: Buy copy of Goodnight, Moon for the Weiss’s new baby.

Which reminds me: Trim bougainvillea bushes on trellis by driveway. (See the connection? Remember that line, “In the great green room,” from the book? See it yet? Green? Outdoors? Yardwork?) Stay with me here.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The characters in Man of the House are all trying to find an inner balance between masculinity and femininity. Linc is attempting to break free from his feminine role as a caregiver and to get in touch with his masculinity. Jo is a woman who has a profession that usu­ally belongs to a male. As Violet is going through puberty, she be­gins to become more of a teenage girl and less of a companion for her father. Jessica is a femme fatale, but has the aggression of a man. How does the mixture of characteristics from both genders affect each character?

2. How does the popular saying “Be careful what you wish for” apply in this novel?

3. How does Linc’s transformation affect his marriage with Jo? What are the positive changes? What are the negative changes?

4. Women who have read Househusband frequently say that they want a househusband of their own. However, throughout history women have generally wanted the typical masculine man as a mate. Which of these types of men is the most appealing and why?

5. As the book progresses, Linc begins to forget small details he usually pays close attention to. What are some of the things he for­gets? What are some of the small details that get forgotten around your household during hectic times?

6. Explain how Jo’s “intervention” with Linc and the foreboding Hurricane Arturo foreshadow disaster ahead in the novel.

7. Everyone knows that kids change with puberty. However, Violet goes through some very big personality changes. Can some of these be blamed on puberty? If so, which ones?

8. The construction at the Menner household makes it so Linc is surrounded by macho men every day. How did this contribute to Linc’s metamorphosis?

9. Discuss Jessica Varnadore’s progression into a stalker. What does she start out doing that hints to trouble later on in the novel?

10. In chapter 9, after Violet gets her braces off, Linc wants to call someone and share his emotional moment. However, he has no one to call. Why do you think male caregivers often feel so alone? Do they forge relationships as women do? Why or why not?

11. Judging from Linc Menner’s experiences, what can men bring to caregiving that women cannot?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    I loved this hilarious book!!

    Ad Hudler has skillfully written a wildly funny depiction of a stay-at-home dad in the throes of a mid-life identity crisis. With his obsessive personality, Linc Menner is meticulously perfect in his homemaking and parenting responsibilities. Actually, he's a male version of Martha Stewart! After moving to Florida, his newest obsessions are hurricane (over)preparations and the chaos of their home renovation. Realizing he's vastly different from the workmen and inspired by the macho general contractor, he decides to become more "manly". What follow is a hilarious account of his startling transformation narrated by Linc, his wife, 13-year-old daughter and a stalker English teacher.

    I absolutely loved this thoroughly entertaining book. Mr. Hudler's writing style is utterly captivating. With his vivid characterization and humorous language, he definitely kept me laughing. On a serious note, this book does serve as an intriguing examination of non-traditional gender roles. All in all, this was well crafted, fascinating, and a delight to read. I highly recommend it!

    This is the sequel to "Househusband", although both books stand alone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    He cooks He cleans He does it all

    A man around the house gives us a frighteningly funny look at a stay at home dad and his atypical family.<BR/>After 13 yrs as a stay at home parent to his daughter Violet & househusband to his wife Jo Lincoln Menner is having gender identity issues. A relocation to Naples Florida brings added turmoil to his life, a total remodel on their new home, a teenager going through her own identity crisis and a wife who works long hours and now hurricanes.<BR/>Mr. Hudler gives us a hilariously funny and very intuitive look at role reversals and a family in crisis. I found myself laughing out loud on minute and shaking my head the next. The novel is very well written with the author¿s unique way with words. The characters are wonderfully warm and funny and very human, and the story line is first rate. I recommend this book to men and women alike. It will hold a proud place in my personal library.<BR/>The work is a sequel to ¿Househusband¿, but does well as a stand a lone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Excellent Read¿

    Ad Hudler ISBN: 9780345481085 Ballantine Books 5 Stars Excellent Read¿ Linc is a househusband. The landscaper opted to stay at home, run the house, and raise his daughter while his wife, Jo, pursued a lucrative career. When she is offered a dream job in Naples, Florida, the family finds more has changed than just their address. Their new home needs extensive remodeling. They attempt living there while the ceiling is literally raised. Linc faces the reality of his daughter reaching puberty. Jo is working more and more hours only to realize that a woman is obsessed with her husband. I love this book. It is written in an embellished style that kept me laughing. Ad Hudler successfully shifts from one perspective to another. He also writes with much experience and expertise. I could easily relate to Linc. I have lead the life of the stay at home mom. The helpful hints were great I intend to try several. This is a must read. Man Of The House is sure to bring a smile to your face.

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