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Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Sonby Buzz Bissinger
Synopses & Reviews
A remarkable memoir from the best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.
Buzz Bissingers twins were born three minutes — and a world — apart. Gerry, the older one, is a graduate student at Penn, preparing to become a teacher. His brother Zach has spent his life attending special schools. He'll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. He is a savant, challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty that can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise.
Buzz realized that while he had always been an attentive father, he didn't really understand what it was like to be Zach. So one summer night Buzz and Zach hit the road to revisit all the places they have lived together during Zach's twenty-four years. Zach revels in his memories, and Buzz hopes this journey into their shared past will bring them closer and reveal to him the mysterious workings of his sons mind and heart. The trip also becomes Buzz's personal journey, yielding revelations about his own parents, the price of ambition, and its effect on his twins.
As father and son journey from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, they see the best and worst of America and each other. Ultimately, Buzz gains a new and uplifting wisdom, realizing that Zach's worldview has a sturdy logic of its own: a logic that deserves the greatest respect. And with the help of Zach's twin, Gerry, Buzz learns an even more vital lesson about Zach: character transcends intellect. We come to see Zach as he truly is: patient, fearless, perceptive, kind — a man of excellent character.
"Bissinger's twin sons, Gerry and Zach, were born three minutes apart, and although both boys were born prematurely, Gerry left the hospital after two months able to breathe on his own; Zach remained in the neonatal intensive care unit, struggling to breathe and to survive. Although Zach never recovered from the brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen, he grew into a lovable man who loves people and who is a savant who memorizes people's birthdays, features of maps, but who also loves the familiar and the routine structure of his life. Though Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) clearly adores both his sons, he admits to feeling like having run away from Zach, whether out of fear or indifference or feelings of failure. So when Zach turns 24, Bissinger proposes that the two of them set out on the open road and drive across the country. In this wrenchingly honest road tale, Bissinger searches desperately to discover who his son really is as well as to come to terms with his own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity as a parent. Although Zach is at first resistant to making the trip, he acquiesces and provides comfort and wisdom for his father along the way as Bissinger struggles with his GPS, traffic, and other minor inconveniences over which he often loses patience. In the end, he movingly fears for Zach's future and still sheds a tear for him every day, and he touchingly concludes that Zach is the most fearless man he has ever known, and the most admirable." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"I loved this unflinching, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant tale of disability and difference, and what it means to be a father, a son, and a man." Jennifer Weiner, New York Times-bestselling author of Then Came You and Fly Away Home
"Blunt, tender, sometimes harrowing, and always affecting, Father's Day is a triumph. Bissinger unfurls the whole fabric of love and pride and heartbreak and salvation that makes a family, with an honesty that will make you gasp." Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief
"Bissinger has the great writers gift of showing us we are not alone. Here he explores the religion all parents share: that our children's essential goodness will somehow grant them safe passage through a rough world. What a book! Every parent should read it." Chris Matthews, host of Hardball and author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero
"Buzz Bissinger's memoir — a paean to his remarkable son — is tender, funny, frightening at moments when love is re-stated; even brave — which memoiristic writing rarely gets the chance to be. It also reads as unflinchingly true, which should give it a long and useful life in the reader's heart." Richard Ford
"Father's Day is the story of a road trip like no other. Searing and heartfelt, this is not just an unforgettable portrait of a father and his son; it is a love story that speaks to the mystery, pain, and exhilaration of being human." Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and The Last Stand
"This brave and beautiful memoir gets at the core of what it means to be a parent — how painful it can be, how scary it can get, and how rewarding it is. By facing a challenge that would try any of us, and beat many of us, Bissinger emerges a better man. He not only finds his son, but himself, and the reader finds something, too. After reading Father's Day, I've rethought my assumptions about what makes a successful and worthy life. Ultimately, this is a mesmerizing story about how we can all be better." David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy
"Buzz Bissinger has given completely of himself in this moving book about his son Zach, who was born too small, too soon. There is the father's disappointment and guilt, his confusion and frustration, his wonder and love. That Zach has a twin brother, who grew up unscathed, and that Zach's mind is as divided as his father's emotions, makes the story all that more compelling. Father's Day is wonderfully, achingly written, with all the doubt that tells you how truthful it is." Frank Deford, author of The Old Ball Game and The Entitled
"Every father of a special needs child should read this very insightful book." Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation
"A fiercely honest memoir about the complex hard drive of a son's brain and the balky software of a father's heart. Though his story is singular, Bissinger makes it feel like part of that eternal saga — fathers and sons trying to connect." J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar
The best-selling author of Friday Night Lights and 3 Nights in August journeys across country and into the psyche of his son and traveling companion, where he finds not only the remarkable skills and debilities known as savantism, but a host of qualities we should all emulate.
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted every moment of David Sheffs journey through his son Nics addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic Sheff became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3 A.M. phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the rehabs. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son and refused to give up on Nic.
Beautiful Boy is a fiercely candid memoir that brings immediacy to the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author captures baseballs strategic and emotional essences through a point-blank account of one three-game series viewed through the keen eyes of legendary manager Tony La Russa. Drawing on unprecedented access to a manager and his team, Bissinger brings the same revelatory intimacy to major-league baseball that he did to high school football in his classic besteller, Friday Night Lights.
Three Nights in August shows thrillingly that human nature — not statistics — can often dictate the outcome of a ballgame. We watch from the dugout as the St. Louis Cardinals battle their archrival Chicago Cubs for first place, and we uncover delicious surprises about the psychology of the clutch, the eccentricities of pitchers, the rise of video, and the complex art of retaliation when a batter is hit by a pitch. Through the lens of these games, Bissinger examines the dramatic changes that have overtaken baseball: from the decline of base stealing to the difficulty of motivating players to the rise of steroid use. More tellingly, he distills from these twenty-seven innings baseball's constants — its tactical nuances, its emotional pull.
During his twenty-six years of managing, La Russa won more games than any other current manager and ranks sixth all-time. He has been named Manager of the Year a record five times and is considered by many to be the shrewdest mind in the game today. For all his intellectual attainments, hes also an antidote to the number-crunching mentality that has become so modish in baseball. As this book proves, he's built his success on the conviction that ballgames are won not only by the numbers but also by the hearts and minds of those who play.
About the Author
Buzz Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller 3 Nights in August and Friday Night Lights, which has sold two million copies and inspired a film and TV franchise. He is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a sports columnist for The Daily Beast. He has written for the New York Times, The New Republic, Time and many other publications.
Table of Contents
Bon Voyage 17
Blue Box 34
Is That All There Is? 50
Failure to Forget 65
Embassy Suites! 79
Lost in Milwaukee 93
Cardinals and Cookies 107
Ill Do Anything 127
Scene of the Crime 134
Mom and Dad 162
Hollywood Blue 178
Viva Las Vegas! 190
Coming Into Los Angeles 200
Picture Perfect 210
Zach and Gerry 221
Reality Bites 227
Zachs Acknowledgments 240
Buzzs Acknowledgments 242
Authors Note 244
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