Synopses & Reviews
In 2010, Don Waters set out to write a magazine story about a surfing icon who had known his absentee father. It was an attempt to find a way of connecting to a man he never knew. He didn't imagine that the story would become a years-long quest to understand a man who left behind almost nothing except for a self-absorbed autobiography for his abandoned son.
These Boys and Their Fathers touches on Waters's early life with his single mother — and her string of dysfunctional men — and his later search for and encounters with his father, but it quickly expands into a gripping account of the life of a 1930s pulp writer, also named Don Waters, with whom Waters becomes obsessed. This wildly original book blends memoir, investigative reporting, and fiction to sort out difficult aspects of family, masculinity, and what it means to be a father.
"An extraordinarily powerful, moving, and urgent exploration of the crossroads between masculinity, paternity, fantasy, 'truth,' and howling sadness." David Shields, author, Reality Hunger
"Waters shape-shifts among genres, voices, and eras to get at the heart of the matter, which happens to be the hardest human matter of all: how to live at peace with ourselves and our family, both the family we're born into and the family we make for ourselves. This book is one of the wisest, most searching explorations of an individual life I have ever encountered, one whose humanity and heart offer universal appeal." Ben Fountain, author, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"There is an empty space on the bookshelf where a search for a father belongs, and Don Waters has written it. As with most
fathers, it is a story of filling in the gaps, reliving memories and imagined memories, and heading to the edge of experience and
truth. Heartbreaking, ambiguous, funny, and wise..." Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Less
About the Author
Don Waters is the author of the memoir These Boys and Their Fathers, a novel, Sunland, and two short story collections, The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain and Desert Gothic, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. His fiction has been widely published and anthologized in the Pushcart Prize, Best of the West, and New Stories from the Southwest.
A frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s written for the New York Times Book Review, Outside, The Believer, Tin House, and Slate, among other publications. Waters is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Lewis & Clark College.
He lives in Portland, Oregon with his partner, the writer Robin Romm, and their daughters.