Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dinner with Dad

I found Cameron Stracher's new book, Dinner With Dad: how I found my way back to the family table, much more enjoyable and interesting than I thought I would. I don't generally like books about returning to the simple life because they're usually written by people with enough disposable income to allow them to take a year off work, or cut back their hours, or hire an au pair. Those aren't realistic alternatives for most Americans. But Stracher manages to recount his journey to an improved family life - eating dinner with his family 5 days a week, and cooking for 3 of them - without sounding whiny or patronizing. The experiment does not go smoothly, and he describes his problems with humor and insight. His two young kids don't want to eat his cooking, preferring buttered noodles and hot dogs. His wife is not happy about having him suddenly underfoot when he begins working from home. And he becomes increasingly guilty about giving less than 100% to his two careers: law professor and legal advisor. It is all these elements that make this book so interesting on a variety of levels. This is a book for people dealing with the picky palates of young children. This is a book for people dealing with relationship strain after retirement. This is a book about the difficulties men face in putting family before work. And this is a book about culinary experimentation. In short, you might find you have far more in common with a lawyer living in a well-off suburb of New York than you might think.

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