22 July, 2013

Review: Life Is Short Laundry Is Eternal by Scott Benner

Parenting memoirs swing between kid worshipping eye crossers and bitterly frustrated justifications of career abandonment. It's pretty rare to find one that doesn't wear it's welcome out long before the final chapter. I wanted Life Is Short Laundry Is Eternal to be that memoir, but it wasn't. Instead Benner offers a weird hybrid of both ends of the genre, leaving the reader struggling to catch up. I still think you should consider reading it.

In the last third of the book Benner's infant daughter is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which is sort of like being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Without diligent management Type 1 diabetes will kill you fast. With diligent management Type 1 diabetes will kill you slowly, quietly eroding your body despite all your efforts. The terror of a parent facing the disease is well captured and Benner is matter of fact in his explanation of what is required to keep his daughter alive. He might have been better served to narrow the memoirs focus to this topic, abandoning the first two thirds of the book as extraneous.

When we first meet Benner he's right out of a Hollywood movie. Who gave me this kid? how do I keep it alive? Hey, I changed a diaper, am I awesome or am I awesome? Why is my wife mad? Should I be nicer to her? Wow, I'm a jerk! My wife works hard and misses everything. The sunlight on a tear in my child's eyelashes is a metaphor for the ephemeral beauty of the impermanent world. Stay at home moms keep the world running, am I right or am I right, ladies? It's a scattershot blog to book style read. His kids are awesome, fatherhood satisfies his soul, he's a frail imperfect man doing his best and occasionally stricken with panic. Great blog content but not a page turner in book form. When Benner is down on himself the reader feels like he's looking for validation. When Benner praises himself the reader wants him to slow his roll. It's probably a realistic look at his life but Enjoyment of Life Is Short Laundry Is Eternal will depend on the reader's tolerance for our narrator explaining it all.

No comments:

Post a Comment