Daddy Cool

Just got my copy of Daddy Cool in the mail.

What’s Daddy Cool? It’s an anthology of writing by fathers…for and about kids.

It’s an interesting book, edited by Ben Tanzer (who’s got two other books about fatherhood that are in the publication pipeline), and it represents a trend that I hope will continue: an interest (in the world of small-press/ indie literature) in reaching young readers. This book isn’t just intended for a middle-grade and YA audience, though many of the stories are; it also attempts to reach dads themselves, and to be a collection that fathers can read alongside their kids. In other words, I can read Story #4, about fatherhood, and then my son can read Story #6, a middle-grade story about a boy’s adventure.

The problem, I suppose, is that it might wind up being too all-inclusive for some readers. You’ll have to do some internal shape-shifting to become a member of the different audiences being addressed and invoked here, and the difference in voice from one story to the next can be a little awkward. But then again, that’s actually a problem that all anthologies face; it’s just that most anthologies are meant only for adults, and the differences in voice generally appeal to different genders, or to different geographic/educational/socio-economic segments (i.e. I might love Story #1 of Best America Short Stories, because I am a Florida male reading a story about a Florida male, but I might be really out-of-it during Story #7, which follows some literary tradition of which I am completely ignorant).

But Daddy Cool is definitely worth checking out, and 100% worth supporting. We need more anthologies like this one, and we need more small-press publishers who are willing to go out on a limb and produce YA and middle-grade work. Sometimes we get so comfortable with being readers, and so caught up in our literary/academic texts (which pay off only because we’ve read so much, and because we’ve been part of the literary/academic conversation for so long) that we forget the very real need to produce work that can create readers. Daddy Cool can do this, and it’s awesome to see Artistically Declined Press take on this challenge.

I should add, as a side-note, that my story “The Sketchpad,” appears somewhere in the thick of the anthology. It’s a mixed-media story, text and image (a la Roald Dahl), and it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to write. Seriously. I don’t know how YA writers do it. I was so worried about writing something fun and engaging, while also not coming across like I was trying too hard, and not coming across like the old dude trying to write something “young,” and also not condescending to the younger audience and…well…the story is in there, and I hope it’s a worthwhile piece. Someday, I really hope I don’t have to watch Jackson read my story and make a stink-face (the “Dad, your story kinda sucked” face).

Order here. Great gift for fathers and sons alike.

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