TALES FOR EXPECTANT FATHERS by William F. Van Wert

TALES FOR EXPECTANT FATHERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ruggedly (if sometimes raggedly) confessional, generously explorative, and more like fictionalized journalism than full-bred storytelling, these twelve brief tales--with assorted husband-narrators--record the chaotic firings of fatherhood's fears, joys, hatreds, obsessions, and epiphanies. In some stories, the wife's pregnancy, the coming birth, is ""a magnet that sucks up all our physical senses."" In others, the husband is wracked by jealousy, a hatred of ""not being able to share"" in the experience. One narrator becomes a ""doll junkie"" during the pregnancy--as he contemplates his child's future toys (including ""Growing Up Skipper,"" who ""zaps into puberty with a twist of her left arm""); another talks ""pal to pal"" with his wife about her discomforts--an unexpected moment of sharing. But a few of the stories move forward to the moment of childbirth (""tears and sweat inside my eyes""), or forward still further to later highlights of fatherhood: the parents of sextuplets arrive with their gang for lunch at a Holiday Inn, where the kids won't settle for ""specials""; caring for a flirtatious little six-year-old girl brings a man back to childhood's first remembered male/female conflict. And the narrators occasionally slide into farce (a fanciful visit to a sperm bank)--or into philosophical meditations: one narrator ponders the ""hormonal need to mother,"" giving it a Biblical cast (superimposed images of Jesus' Woman at the Well, a babyhungry madwoman at a wishing-well, a grandmother past childbearing); another sees his planned cross-cultural marriage aborted, his unborn son simply cancelled; and the final narrator contemplates the jumble of generations in the fluidity of time, the anticlimax after desire and creation, the possibilities of re-birth. Despite some strident lapses and an overall, essay-like flatness: an unusual item, product of a fresh talent, with more than a few insights into the fraught relationship of fathers to babies, husbands to wives.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dial