13 June 2011

Who's Your Daddy #1 and giveaway

Welcome to 'Who's Your Daddy' week! In honor of Father's Day this weekend (at least in Canada and the US. Do other countries have Father's Day?) this week's posts will focus on dads. Today I have a special guest blogger: author Andre Gerard.

Mr Gerard has coined the term  patremoir (pa-tre-mwär), a "book, essay, poem, play or film built around memories of the author's father." He has written a book entitled  Fathers: A Literary Anthology which is a collection of essays and poems from literary legends like Alice Munro, Franz Kafka, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath and E.B. White exploring the concept of fatherhood and all its ups and downs. 

Born a twin in 1953, son of a German mother and a Belgian father, Andre Gerard grew up far from Wurzburg and from Liege, among the forests and lakes of the coastal pulp and paper town of Powell River, B.C. A lover of endives and sauerkraut, lebkuchen and rice pie, he has a BSc. (74) and a BA. (76) from UBC, and a Master’s of English Literature from the University of Washington (77), and over the years has worked as broke hustler, green chain hand, postal employee, commercial fisherman, apartment manager, and tutor. His book, Fathers: A Literary Anthology is available from Amazon and IndiBound, and from more and more independent booksellers in the US and Canada every day.

Welcome, Andre, thank you for sharing with us today. What I'd like you to address today is how and why you came to compile 'Father's: A Literary Anthology'.

I often get asked where I starting compiling Fathers and how I chose the pieces I did.  Each time I think about the process I come up with more possible answers.  I now have so many that I am half seriously starting to entertain the idea of writing a new book, Why and How I Compiled and Wrote Fathers: A Literary Anthology.

One answer to why I started lies in my career as a tutor.  When I started tutoring twenty-five years ago, I had a lot of so-called "astronaut kids," Asian teenagers whose fathers were forced to stay back in Hong Kong or Taiwan so as to support the family.  The children often did not recognize the sacrifices involved, and so they were confused, depressed or angry at what they saw as parental abandonment.  To help these teenagers gain perspective and to give them a chance to talk through their feelings, I started collecting essays and poems about fathers.  

A second reason lies in my own experiences as a father. Like most parents, my wife and I experienced many moments of confusion and doubt about how we were raising our children.  What worked with one child didn't necessarily work with another, and answers were not always obvious.  Small problems sometimes loomed very large, and there were times when I beat myself up for what I felt were inadequacies on my part. Reading father essays with my students taught me that fathering and parenting have always involved doubt, confusion and mistakes. Even though I was Mr. Mom at home, I was kin to the fathers of Angela Carter, Franz Kafka, or Philip Roth, to name only a few.  Reading their stories gave me perspective. The essays were as helpful to me as a father as they were to my students as children.

The seed of the anthology lay in providing perspective on fathers, and yet as I worked on the book it also grew in an entirely different direction. I found hundreds of essays and poems, and in the process of choosing the pieces the literary aspect of the writing became more and more important. I felt that some of the essays and some of the poems were changing me in profound ways, and the longer I worked the more important the transformational power of literature became to me. In Fathers, I quote Judith Ortis Cofer as saying "language is more powerful than chemistry.  You are what you hear, what you read."  The pieces in Fathers were chosen to help illustrate this insight. I took Cofer's words to heart--as well as Annie Dillard's mantra that "The mind fits the world and shapes it as a river fits and shapes its own banks"-- and I looked for pieces which shaped me and my students in profound and meaningful ways. In part, Fathers: A Literary Anthology is meant as a book to fit and shape the minds of all fathers and children.

During her teenage years, my daughter and I frequently locked horns in very unpleasant ways, each of us behaving more childishly than the other. On one such occasion she screamed at me, "You would make a wonderful uncle, but you are an awful father!"  The genesis of Fathers also owes a lot to that back handed compliment.

Thanks, Andre for being here today. If you'd like a copy of Andre Gerard's book, (or anything else from Amazon) for your dad for Father's Day, comment with a few words about your dad (and your e-mail address please) and on Wednesday I'll be happy to send one of you a $20 gift card from amazon. Just a mini-giveaway to start the week. Good luck!


  1. This will be the first Father's Day since my dad has passed away. It's only been six months but I miss him each and every day.

    I don't know how I'll feel. I'll put on a smile for my kids, that's for sure.


  2. My Dad was your typical dad of the 50's, not at all like Leave It to
    Beaver's dad. Head over your roof and food on the table was about it.
    However, it taught me to be very independent and that is the best lesson ever.
    Unfortunately, he passed away before I really got to know him.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  3. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Words about my dad: He's been the only man in the house since he and my mother got married almost 30 years ago. I have two sisters, and even the dogs were girls. He's been a neutral friend and easy to talk to. He tries to be hip and uses lingo the teens use these days, and it just cracks us all up. Gotta love dads!!

    imabookshark AT yahoo DOT com

    Mickey @ imabookshark

  4. Thanks for the Giveaway!
    This is going to be my first Fathers Day without my Dad because he is back in my country (Puerto Rico) and I'm studying over here. My Dad was and is always there for me, I can't not be more proud of him. He had always work to support my family. I love my DAD!!


  5. My father was a bread winner through the fifties and sixties - held one full time job (real estate seller), one seasonal job (farming) and one part-time job(guitarist in a band)just to make ends meet. No wonder he was tired and grumpy when my brother and I saw him for those short times in the evenings. He passed away before I could pass on this insight and the gratefulness that I gained in adulthood. Andre's book sounds like a wonderful read.

    Dana, you have an amazing variety of authors and their books highlighted on your site. Thanks for that!

  6. I am from india and my father has always been my source of inspiration and strength.there have been many moments in our life when it seemed we were at the point of no-return,but my father always kept that smile on his face and assured us that no matter what, he would always be with us forever to. Take care.
    today I live far from him,but I cry thinking of those many times I wasted being angry on him or fighting with him. Today I am a mother myself,and if I can be even 1percent of a parent my father is,i will knw I have achieved a lot.

  7. Sorry my comment got posted as anonymous...im debolina from india.

  8. My relationship to my Dad isn't the closest anymore. We was a great father when I was a kid, but after my parents split things changed quite a bit. I see him a couple of times a year now and am slowly trying to built up a closer relationship again.

    danaan at gmx dot at

  9. My dad was a very kind and honorable man the youngest of 10 children. He was a man everyone respected because he treated everyone how he wished to be treated. He had a way of making anyone that knew him feel special to him. They knew they had a special part of his heart. He had faith in you and no one ever wanted to let him down so would strive to be and do their very best because in his gentle way he let you know there was not a doubt in his mind you could do it. His faith was felt by all those who knew him.

  10. My dad and I had a rocky relationship for a while. But since he started his divorce (it's been finalized since January) he's been one of my closest friends. I can turn to him for anything, and he was really there for me when my mom totally screwed me over last month. Every day I am thankful I have someone like him in my life: strong, present, protective, wise, and most of all, FUN.

    PrettyDeadlyReviews AT yahoo DOT com

  11. One thing that I akways loved as a kid was when my father came into our room and sang us a couple of bedtime songs. That was always nice to hear his voice and know we were safe.

  12. Great blog post, Dana! I must get a copy of Fathers: A Literary Anthology. Sounds like the perfect Father's Day gift. God bless.

  13. Just wanted to stop by and say hi and thanks for checking out my blog. Am now a follower :)


  14. Thanks for sharing this. I love anthologies and this sounds especially interesting.

    -Miss GOP

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Great post and a great gift idea! My dad is great too - your typical stand behind you, support everything you do even when it's dumb, unconditional love kind of guy... ;) I recently found a poem I wrote back in high school (ah, the wonders of AP English!) about going sledding with him when I was a little kid - I worshipped him even then, you see - and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it stood the test of time. But then again, that's the kind of guy my dad is... :) Thanks for letting me tell you a little about him - and looking forward to the rest of the Father's Day week stuff!


  17. My dad and I have always been very close. I remember as a kid we were involved in a YMCA Father/Daughter group where we did fun things together in the community. :) Thankfully my husband is a lot like him! Happy Fathers Day to all fathers out there :)
    littlegray88 at yahoo dot com

  18. Hi Dana,

    Many thanks for posting the interview. The comments are wonderful too. I've already shared the post with my wife and son, and I'll share it with my dad tonight. At ninety one he is still very sharp and very active, and he is really proud of the book, even though he can't read the poem I wrote about him and mom without dissolving into tears. Tomorrow, though, wont be about tears. To celebrate Fathers Day and to give myself an excuse to read a few excerpts from the book, I've organize a dad walk at Jericho Beach, complete with bagpiper. My son and I are going to wrestle dad into a wheelchair (he is fiercely proud and even resists using a cane)and we'll wheel him around the the 3 kilometers of beach and forest trail. It will be a hoot.

  19. Andre,
    What a fantastic idea for Father's day!! Wish I could be there with my dad. Have fun!


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