Fall is blockbuster season, but if you’re looking for proof that there’s much more to celebrate in October than eagerly awaited releases by Messrs. Eugenides and Murakami, look no further than this post. October also marks the release of Joshua Mohr’s Damascus and Greg Olear’s Fathermucker, two titles I read in galley months ago and enjoyed immensely.
These releases differ in many ways. One comes to us from Two Dollar Radio, the little indie that could, while the other comes to us from Harper, the lumbering giant that sometimes can and sometimes can’t (it’s worth noting that in the case of Fathermucker they most assuredly can). One is set against a suburban backdrop, while the other is decidedly urban. One has a lollipop on the cover, the other has a dive bar. But what I love about these titles is what they do have in common: both are by gifted young writers to watch, both are funny, pithy, irreverent and bursting with voice, and both books have stuck with me over the six or so months since I read them.
On Fathermucker, briefly:
A day in the life of a dad on the brink: Josh Lansky—second-rate screenwriter, fledgling freelancer, and stay-at-home dad of two preschoolers—has held everything together while his wife is away on business . . . until this morning’s playdate, when he finds out through the mommy grapevine that she might be having an affair. What Josh needs is a break. He’s not going to get one.
Fathermucker is a whip-smart, hilarious, and deeply moving meditation on fatherhood and marriage. This book ought to be required reading for stay-at-home dads. And moms too. Olear nails parenthood, the beauty, the politics, the frustration and the joy.
On Damascus, briefly:
Mohr is the bard of the underbelly, and the Mission District is his playground. Part Harry Crews, part Charles Bukowski, and part Franz Kafka, Mohr will make you squirm, laugh, recognize, and take pause. Behind his wayward and dissolute characters, burns the clear-eyed moral vision of a very unique artist. Damascus is Mohr’s finest novel to date.