Oh, Katie Roiphe. I have to admit that I’ve been more than a little fed up with the phenom that is Go the F to Sleep. Call it jealousy; maybe I wish I had written a book with less than 500 words that skyrocketed to the best seller list before it even came out. Or that inspired Samuel Jackson to narrate the audio version. So, yes, I was excited to see Roiphe of “there is no such thing as date rape” infamy, take on the book in a column on Slate.
And I was really with her at first. She goes right to the heart of things, pointing out that behind the one-line joke of this book is “nastiness” and “an undercurrent of resentment that is comic, or ‘cathartic.’” The book, as she sees it, is an indictment of modern parenthood, what she would consider over-parenting and I would say is called actually taking care of your own children, at least on the weekends and at nights when you aren’t working.
Behind the sing-songy text and dream like pictures of tigers and pajama-clad toddlers, readers of Go the F to Sleep can peak in the background and see tired parents who are just trying to watch some television. And I get it, in some ways that’s really kind of pathetic, right? Roiphe writes:
The book, in all its cleverness and artfulness and ingenuity, raises certain other questions: Are they having sex, these slouchy rageful parents? Not enough, perhaps. When the father turns back to the waking child’s bedroom, we look out at the comfy, sexless, vaguely depressive scene of his wife sprawled asleep on the couch under an ugly old blanket. No wonder the slouchy dad is full of rage.
No wonder all those slouchy dads and moms who just want to watch a movie and eat some microwave popcorn find this book so funny, so transporting; no wonder it makes them feel, as the publicity materials suggest, “less alone.” But if those sweet-faced children, so gorgeously drawn by Ricardo Cortés, could talk back would they say: “Put on a fucking dress. Have a fucking drink. Stop hovering over us. Live your own goddamned life.
Ouch. Ok, that hurts. And maybe not just because finding the time to watch Mad Men with my husband on the couch seems like a luxury, but because I actually sleep on that couch. We share a 650-square foot apartment with our daughter and since she has the earlier bedtime, she gets the bedroom. Oh I know, Katie’s eyes must be rolling at that. Read the rest of this entry →