Monday, April 21, 2008

Robert Wilder

Robert Wilder is the author of Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids--Even When They're Driving Him Nuts and Tales from the Teachers' Lounge: What I Learned in School the Second Time Around--One Man's Irreverent Look at Being a Teacher.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
My reading time is quite precious, usually borrowed from my forgiving wife Lala (when we should be talking about something important in bed) or stolen by leaving the high school campus where I teach and crossing Camino de la Cruz Blanca to hide in the St. John’s College coffee shop or library. A few weeks ago, my family flew to Florida for spring break, which increased my reading hours considerably. While my kids were smashing castles in the sand and Lala was eavesdropping on the saucy couples around us, I got lost in Patricia Hampl’s The Florist’s Daughter. Hampl is our purest memoirist. In the book, she effortlessly (and associatively) weaves the story of her parents, herself, St Paul, Fitzgerald, her father’s sadly wonderful floral business and the deep heart of America. Her work is like a rich tapestry: one can barely find any threads of structure or shape yet all of her stories and ideas blend beautifully.

I also just finished a terrific book of short stories: The Mother Garden by Robin Romm. I had a horrible bout of insomnia before we left for Florida and after tossing and turning, I went out to the loveseat in our living room and devoured these delightful stories. What I like about Romm’s work is that she allows so much mystery (some would say magic) into otherwise realistic premises. A daughter finds her father roaming in the desert; a woman washes up on the shore during a disconnected family reunion; all her stories invite us to wonder and wander along the twisted roads of her wonderful prose.

Finally, since I have an eleven-year-old daughter Poppy who is a voracious reader and a six-year-old son London who is learning his sight words (and struggling with “wh” ones), we brought along to Florida Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House by Haven Kimmel, a book we all could love. At first my son was upset that there was no mention of Pokemon or superheroes but he got over it quickly because the book was so smart and so funny. Kimmel, an accomplished novelist and memoirist, does not pander to children in the least. Her characters are quirky, odd, and flawed and she lets them keep those refreshing qualities. As a parent who has to sit through painful kidlit, it’s great to have a book that doesn’t make me want to drink bleach. Poppy loved it so much that she read it twice in a row. When was the last time you did that?
Robert Wilder's column, “Daddy Needs a Drink,” is published monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Visit Wilder's website, his Facebook presence, and his MySpace page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue