I spent a few minutes in the hot seat with Patheos editor Deb Arca who asked me quite possibly the most challenging, soul-searching questions of my entire life.
And then when the tape recorder broke, we went with these instead.
Christian Piatt’s newest book, PregMANcy: A Dad, A LIttle Dude, and a Due Date, is one of those you just can’t put down. I mean, how often do you get to hear a guy’s innermost, unedited thoughts from the nine months leading up to the birth of his baby? Piatt’s honest, raw and hilarious stories from the period leading up to the birth of his second child, takes us right to heart of a man’s experience – or at least Christian’s experience — around baby-making, in all its joy, fear, questions and mystery.
I caught up with Christian, who also happens to also be one of my favorite Patheos bloggers, to ask him a few questions about the new book. He was, as usual, funny and real.
This book is really funny. Laugh out loud funny. How did you decide to write PregMANcy?
It was personal therapy at first. I didn’t want to lose my mind over all the freaking out I had when I thought of having two kids. I showed to a couple of folks and they actually liked it better than the “serious” stuff I was working on. Next thing I know, I had almost enough for two books and actually had to edit it down quite a bit.
Did you learn anything new about yourself while writing this book?
I learned I do not love vomit, or the taste of pee. Other than that, I think I learned I’m probably better at writing about fatherhood than I actually am at fatherhood. So here’s hoping this book goes big so I can pay for my kids’ therapy.
What conversations do you want this book to inspire?
I hope guys will feel like they’re not the only ones going through this insanity when their partner is pregnant, or in raising kids, for that matter. It’s probably a good thing we were born with the capacity to love so deeply, because otherwise, the whole parenting thing is more or less insane.
Do you expect this book to change anyone’s mind? About what?
There are no big morals or persuasive arguments in this book. It’s my story, and I think it’s told in a way that anyone who is planning to have kids or who already has them can see themselves. I hope folks will laugh at themselves as much as they laugh at the schmuck who wrote this thing, and I hope folks do get a little bit of insight into how being a man, a dad and a husband in the 21st century is different than it has been for any generation before us in a lot of ways.
Let’s rewrite the subtitle. What other pithy phrases sum up this book?
Well, I’d say “Daddy, You Suck,” which is the first quote in the beginning of the book from my son. Problem is, I used that for my second memoir. At one point it was called “PULLING THE GOALIE: My lesson in how babies are made…again” but ultimately we went with, well, you know. How about “You Did This to Me!”? A little nod to the joy we guys share in the whole pregnancy process. Maybe not.
Name one person you hope reads this book. Why?
David Sedaris, pretty much because he’s my idol. But since he’s gay, I’m not sure it’ll make his short list. If not him, maybe Adam Corolla, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, just because I want to go on their shows. I know that’s more than one; I don’t follow directions well. Just ask my wife.
I actually had someone tell me they laughed so much when they read this, they peed a little. So none of those is ideal. I mean, you could pee in the tub I guess, but then you’re sitting in your own pee water. If you pee on the sofa your wife will kill you. Subways already smell like pee, so I’ll go with subway.
You get to organize a book club with three people to read and discuss your book. Who do you want to be there?
My friend AJ Jacobs, because he has two kids and is a hilarious writer. I’d also probably invite Eddie Izzard, mostly because I’ve had some folks compare my humor to his. And plus, you really do need to add a transvestite into the mix. Last, I’d probably invite Somebody cliché like Gandhi or MLK, but they’d have to bring the beer.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Getting my wife to approve the chapters. It’s a pretty unfiltered look into our lives and there were occasional stories that actually got axed. Most of them had to do with bodily functions.
Which chapter was the easiest to write?
Probably the one where I listed all my fears and anxieties about having another kid. I could have probably gone on to write a whole book, just about that. I tend toward the neurotic side of life, sometimes. Then again, don’t all writers?
Does your wife like the book?
She says yes, but that it’s a little vulnerable. After all I got to pick what was told and what was left out. She remarked on that a few times, but I told her to go write her own book. And then she sent me to my room.
What are some of your favorite books on parenting?
Most of them suck, really. That’s why I wrote this. The Happiest Baby on the Block has some great advice, but it’s not funny at all. Daddy Needs a Drink by Robert Wilder is great. Other than that, I haven’t seen a whole lot I’m too crazy about, especially not for guys.
What’s your favorite book to read to your kids?
Right now it’s Skippyjon Jones, at least with my three-year-old daughter, Zoe. My son, Mattias, is an eight-year-old little genius so he reads to me more than the other way around. Lately we’ve been into the Guinness Book of World Records. He’s crazy about trivia, that kid.
Often, the best book ideas come while you’re writing a book. Have you started the next one?
Actually, I finished Daddy You Suck and it’s being shopped to various publishers right now. I’m working on memoir number three right now, with the working title of Face the Strange. It’s about our family’s move from Colorado to Portland. We haven’t quite made it there all in one piece yet, so whether that one will have a happy ending is still up in the air, I guess.
For more on Christian’s book, including an excerpt and a must-see video with his son, check out the Patheos Book Club here.