Monday, September 14, 2009

The World Without Kids

“Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids”
Edited by Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie
ISBN No. 978-1-894898-74-4

A sequel to 2006’s “Nobody’s Mother,” this collection of essays by and about men reconsidering fatherhood is so emotionally honest it’s almost a bit embarrassing. Yes, the title conjures up those mediagenic divorced fathers’ rights stunts that make it into the newspapers (dads dressed as superheroes flying banners from bridges complaining about the unfairness of divorce law) but “Nobody’s Father” is about a quieter group of men; those who don’t have children and whose lives might not leave any footprints once they’re gone – and they’re sort of okay with that. Basically, the book is a series of perceptive first-hand accounts about why some very hard-thinking men got fed up with doing their societal duty: carrying the family name past the present tense.
The book starts off hopefully enough with John Gould’s “Mine”. This story about how the typical hopes and dreams of graduating teens get turned on their head when having kids is removed from the equation is bookended with Don W. Maybin’s stunning summation of how choices and circumstances can turn a childless man into “Everyone’s Uncle.” Between them the stories pile up in ways that don’t remind you so much of the rumour that Adolph Hitler’s siblings made a pact to not have kids as it does of the recent book about humanity dying out, “The World Without Us”. “Nobody’s Father” is a really interesting, intimate document; a piece of work that might be studied decades from now by archaeologists trying to figure out what kind of people we were.