In March, we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
Prescription #17: I'm interested in stories about fatherhood. What do you recommend?
A father is both a person and a role, sometimes also a metaphor, and often set within the wider context of a family. Rich in literary possibility, depictions of fathers and fatherhood can conventionally represent them as creator, ruler, judge, protector, nurturer, mentor or role-model, whether present or absent, doting or stern, modern or traditional, a vast and complex range of representation toward which this list can make only a gesture.
· William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a bleak tragedy of fatherhood, depicting the relationship between an ageing, vain and foolish man and his three daughters, two of them thankless and one unappreciated.
· Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus tells the story of a young scientist who creates life without heeding the consequences or his parental responsibilities in Mary Shelley’s classic 19th-century novel.
· Written in response to the death of his father, the author Kingsley Amis, is Experience by Martin Amis, himself a writer of renown: it is part autobiography and part portrait of his father, and those parts often inextricably intertwined.
· Subtitled “a study of two temperaments” and published in 1907, Father and Son, by the poet and critic Edmund Gosse, rejects his father’s stern religious fundamentalism in favour of the revolutionary evolutionary theories of science.
· Heart-breaking in the depths of its anguish is the Man Booker-winning depiction of President Abraham Lincoln’s overwhelming grief at the loss of his beloved child in George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.
· Balancing the many facets that make up a man, Adam Dudding’s book My Father’s Island: A Memoir is a moving and thoughtful reckoning of his father, Robin Dudding, the greatest literary editor of his generation, friend and mentor of many of New Zealand’s best-known writers.
· At a family barbeque in suburban Melbourne, one father slaps the misbehaving son of another, in Chris Tsiolkas’ The Slap, a novel which focuses on the consequences of this one impulsive act.
· A father, elderly and regretful, calls his sons to him for the first time in many years, before it’s too late, in & Sons by David Gilbert.
· The complicated relationship between a father and son is the focus of the novel Wise Men, by Stuart Nadler, in which the events of one summer on Cape Cod have consequences which extend through many years to come.
· For middle readers, David Walliams’ Bad Dad tells the story of a boy who hatches a plan to break his Dad out of jail and foil the nefarious plans of crime-lord Mr Big.