Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, sad, inspiring book about bringing up boys, 18 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Boys are Back in Town (Hardcover)
You will want to give this book to every parent you know, but especially to every parent of boys, and especially especially to every single-parent of boys. They will thank you and love you for it because this is one of the funniest books you will read in any year. It was written only because Simon Carr's second, beautiful, feisty, much-loved wife died of cancer. Left with two boys to bring up on his own, Carr muddles through and learns an enormous amount about parenting, about house-keeping, about the fun and the filth boys can create. In an environment ranging from "free-range" to "semi-feral", the boys get by, get along, get down, get up late, and get used to a different set of rules and a life unregimented by a woman's hand. They travel a long way. The books 232 pages take us from London to Australia to London to New Zealand and back to Oxford with a fair bit of diversion along the way. A bit like in a more adult, funnier and darker version of The Incredible Journey, these human-like male creatures get into some heroic scrapes - including some memorably scary encounters with fearful fierce beasts called Real Estate Agents - but they help each other through and get there in the end.
The reason you'll want to bulk buy the book to hand out to all those single-parents is not just because it is a laugh-out-loud funny, sob-out-loud sad autobiography by one of The Independent's most readable journalists. Like Tony Parson's Man and Boy, this is a moving, funny, confessional book about fatherhood - a great read, a great present, but you'd wait till Christmas or birthday before you handed over your £8.00. There is another reason you want to buy this one right away and give it to everyone even if they've just had their Birthday and you spent more than you meant to on their present and took them out to dinner and you know they already got lots of books for Christmas and they've got their own account at Amazon anyway. The Boys are Back in Town gives you genuine insight into the different ways women and men interact with their children, especially with their boys.
Women (usually) nurture better, but protect too much - mostly because they love so much. Fathers (usually) can give more distance, allow them more rope, take more risks. Carr is not a polemicist and he's not suggesting we should send women back to Mars or out to work or onto courses to get in touch with their masculine sides. He doesn't think his take-away littered, sock-strewn, telly-dominated, germ and gym-kit laden environment is a better place to bring up kids. It's just that he observes and learns and we observe and learn that some of what's missing probably isn't badly missed. We see some really rubbish and typically male behaviour from Carr and his boys, but also see them grow together and develop in good ways that wouldnt have happened if there had been a mum there. You still wish his lovely, funny wife was alive - and in part this book is a love letter to her - but you know they would be less likely to have played hide and seek in the park, in the dark with her around. This is stuff that all parents probably think about some of the time, but most should probably think about more of the time. Ten times more readable than any Kitzinger or Spock, and twenty times more entertaining, this is a personal story with universal lessons. Made me laugh, made me cry, made me think.
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Initial post: 19 Jan 2010 18:03:50 GMT
Which friend of Simon's are you? (sorry - I loved the review, but you are obviously at the very least a fellow writer. I am sure you are not lying, because I heard SC on the radio and thought; 'now there is the perfect English gent. And he's funny. Is he still single?')
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