When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood

When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood

by Brian Gresko


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When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood by Brian Gresko

From some of today’s most critically acclaimed writersincluding Dennis Lehane, Justin Cronin, Andre Dubus III, and Benjamin Percycomes a rich collection of essays on what it means to be a dad. 

Becoming a father can be one of the most profoundly terrifying, exhilarating, life-changing occasions in a man’s life. Now 22 of today’s masterful writers get straight to the heart of modern fatherhood in this incomparable collection of thought-provoking essays. From making that ultimate decision to have a kid to making it through the birth to tangling with a toddler mid-tantrum, and eventually letting a teen loose in the world, these fathers explore every facet of fatherhood and show how being a father changed the way they saw the world—and themselves.

“One of the first things I learned about fatherhood was that my father was right: it was hard and it kicked the shit out of your life plan.”—Lev Grossman

“I wanted to hold him. I wanted to hold him close and never let go. But we have to let go, don’t we?”—Andre Dubus III 

“Bridges are engineered. Children are worked toward, clumsily, imperfectly, with a deep and almost religious faith in trial and error.”—Ben Greenman

“If you counted up the nights I’ve spent dancing to ‘Strangers in the Night,’ those hours would stretch three times around the equator.”—Garth Stein

“The most surprising aspect of parenting has been how much my pre-parenting life looks like a cloud in the rearview.”—Dennis Lehane

Contributors include
André Aciman, Chris Bachelder, David Bezmozgis, Justin Cronin, Peter Ho Davies, Anthony Doerr, Andre Dubus III, Steve Edwards, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Ben Greenman, Lev Grossman, Dennis Lehane, Bruce Machart, Rick Moody, Stephen O’Connor, Benjamin Percy, Bob Smith, Frederick Reiken, Marco Roth, Matthew Specktor, Garth Stein, and Alexi Zentner

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425269244
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 858,109
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Brian Gresko is a stay-at-home dad and writer based in Brooklyn. His essays and journalism have appeared on the Huffington Post, Salon, TheAtlantic.com, the Daily Beast, the Paris Review Daily, the Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among numerous other publications. He has also contributed to Glimmer Train and Slice magazine. He keeps a daily column about dads for Babble and is currently at work on a novel.

Table of Contents

Foreword Darin Strauss xiii

Introduction Brian Gresko xvii

On Love and Incompetence Dennis Lehane 1

Daughter Pressure Lev Grossman 15

First Child David Bezmozgis 23

Hurtings Alexi Zentner 29

Nine Times (Among Countless Others) I've Thought About the People Who Came Before Us in My Brief Career as a Father Anthony Doerr 41

You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory Ben Greenman 57

Empty Rooms André Aciman 67

My Daughter and God Justin Cronin 73

As Long as He Knows You Love Him Stephen O'Connor 95

Father's Prayer Chris Bachelder 107

Taking Her Measure Karl Taro Greenfeld 117

Dinosaur Peter Ho Davies 127

A World in Which We Refuse to Play Bruce Machart 135

Our Birds Matthew Specktor 149

Your Own Worst Enemy Benjamin Percy 157

Arcadia Frederick Reiken 169

On Fatherhood and Separation Rick Moody 181

To Tell a Happy Story Steve Edwards 193

Paternal Authority Takes a Backseat Marco Roth 205

Zombie Father Bob Smith 215

Man, Dying Garth Stein 227

The Door Andre Dubus 245

About the Contributors 265

Copyrights and Permissions 273

Acknowledgments 275

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[A] fabulous new anthology of fatherhood essays...A true must-read for pros and expectant parents alike. It's cutting and honest and hilarious and sad, with 22 essays from some of our best writers, such as Dennis Lehane, Justin Cronin, Lev Grossman, and many, many more...The essays are incredibly refreshing because they show fatherhood in such a vulnerable light—the good, the bad, the frustrating, and incredibly wonderful."—Parade magazine

"These gifted writers charge full-force into the heart of fatherhood…[An] impressive collection."—Publishers Weekly

"This collection could be subtitled 'Profiles in Perseverance.' These fathers have fought the battles, and we lucky readers receive this collection of wry, moving stories."—Library Journal

"We lucky readers receive this collection of wry, moving stories."—Kirkus Reviews

"A collection of luminous essays by men on parenthood that are easily read and terrifically illuminating...Full of remembrances and half-remembrances of parenting in all its glory: failure, triumph, joy, tribulation, humorous bits and tragedies big and small...Readers will laugh, or perhaps wipe a tear; parents will nod knowingly."—Shelf Awareness

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When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jolar_01 More than 1 year ago
The authors in this anthology write eloquently and openly about being dads. As a parent (a mom!), reading these gems made me laugh, groan, and wince, but most of all made me feel connected; they give a nuanced voice to an experience shared by so many people, but rarely talked about in such an honest way. This book is perfect for dads and moms, new and well-experienced.
Gpc23 More than 1 year ago
Excellent collection of essays!  Well worth the reading.  I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and would recommend it to anyone to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago