You Can Make Him Like You by Ben Tanzer. The novel's website will tell you "You Can Make Him Like You, Tanzer's third novel is an adventure in being a grown up, in facing relationships and jobs, friendships and parenthood. A true exploration of what it means to live in our world, saturated with pop culture in the midst of real life struggles." But what you should really know is this: the first chapter opens with Keith, the conflicted, pop-saturated protagonist, on top of an intern and it's almost impossible for him to concentrate on the task at hand because
1) he's distracted by the fact he's on top of a 24-year-old intern in spite of his "ever-expanding waistline," and
2) he can't stop wondering how he got there, and
3) he's worried what his wife of eight years will think of all this.
At the risk of spoiling that opening chapter, I can also tell you the intern sexcapade is a fantasy spooling through Keith's mind. He's actually on top of his wife and distracted by a loud knocking at his front door. When he goes to answer it (wearing only his underwear and a ratty Hold Steady T-shirt), he finds a "freakishly hot drunken chick" on his doorstep.
Welcome to Keith's head, a manic swirl of neuroses, song lyrics, sexual fantasies, and the Obama-McCain presidential race. Told in short, can't-read-just-one chapters, You Can Make Him Like You (which takes its title from a Hold Steady song) is one part Nick Hornby, one part McSweeney's off-kilter lit, and all parts kinetic-cool.
It also makes a great Father's Day gift. Did I mention that Liz, Keith's wife, is expecting their first baby? The result is the kind of bundle-of-nerves fiction to which any father, expectant or current, can relate. But don't just take my word for it. At The Olive Reader, Harper Perennial's blog, Greg Olear (author of the forthcoming Fathermucker: A Novel) counts You Can Make Him Like You among the 10 Best Father's Day Books.
If you're a father* (as I am, three times over), I'm sure you can relate to the beginning of Chapter Fifteen:
Eat. Burp. Poop. Change diaper. Sleep. Eat. Burp. Poop. Change diaper. Sleep. Eat. Poop. Change diaper. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Poop. Change diaper. Not sleep. Not sleep. Sleep. Eat. Poop. Change diaper.Or the start of the following chapter:
It is all craziness, all of it and everything having to do with everything, and yet nothing is really crazier than the fact that we are home, that they actually let us leave the hospital with Jones, a real, living, breathing baby. What could they have been thinking? I mean we know nothing about nothing, stop, that's not true, we do know that Jones sleeps, poops and eats when and where he wants and that we need to change his diapers and clean his belly button with some kind of regularity. It's that we just never know whether we are doing it right or how he's doing or how long we have been doing it.
If you would like a chance at winning a copy of You Can Make Him Like You, all you have to do is answer this question:
What is your favorite book about fathers or fatherhood?
Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. One entry per person, please. Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on June 23--at which time I'll draw the winning name. I'll announce the lucky reader on June 24.
*or even a mother, for that matter.