Adam Mansbach's 'Go the F**k to sleep' gives guilty fathers absolution
The Jewish American author's hilarious new 'pseudo-lullaby', which has garnered widespread success, is to be published in Hebrew soon.
So the tables have finally turned - not only are men assuming a larger role in performing some mundane household chores - they have now started feeling guilty for not measuring up as fathers, as parents are expected to be more involved in their children’s lives.
Now, just as as the moms had Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother” to assuage their guilty consciences, men have been given their own absolution with Jewish American author Adam Mansbach’s hilarious pseudo-lullaby, "Go the F**k to sleep."
The instant success of his first short book must have been quite shocking for Mansbach, who has authored some pretty heavy novels.
At the final event of the author’s book tour on Wednesday evening in Washington DC, a woman asked Mansbach what it takes to bring an idea from inception to fruition and publication.
Holding a whiskey glass in one hand, Mansbach, addressing the packed group at the "P.J. Clarke's" restaurant, used his other hand to make an abstract gesture in the air.
"There is no shortcut for the time it takes," he started, jokingly adding "37 minutes.”
He then clarified, saying “it's really about diligence, more than anything else. But why would you like to be a writer? My advice is, go do some other shit."
Many in the audience had already listened to Samuel L. Jackson's reading of the book ("His best work since "Pulp fiction," Mansbach comments), but the room dissolved into laughter when the author himself began reading the book aloud:
"The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the fuck to sleep"...
As people held their newly purchased books, he shared some his experiences with readers. Mansbach’s wife is Swedish, and apparently "the Swedes were deeply offended by the book, called me psychotic, called for me to be hospitalized. There was an organization in New Zealand that called for the book to be banned."
After the event, Mansbach met with Haaretz to discuss his immensely popular book for daddies.
Seriously, you were talking about Sweden, but in the U.S. we are in the age of the Tea Party. Are you telling me you haven’t received any objections from the local conservatives?
"No one here tried to censor the book," he shrugged, adding "given that we are gearing up for the presidential elections, I was sort of hoping that someone would try to censor the book, and I had high hopes that Michele Bachmann's crazy ass would decide to make her part of her campaign, but it hasn't happened yet, so I keep my fingers crossed."
When asked about his own parenting skills, Mansbach, father to a three-year-old daughter, said he is “absolutely” a great dad.
" I didn't hesitate about publishing it,” he told Haaretz, adding “I did it very whimsically, as a joke at first, and I did it with no expectations or any kind of calculations, but as I realized that people around me thought it was very funny - I decided that it's something that should be published.”
Mansbach sent the manuscript for his book to only one publisher, “and they were very enthusiastic about it, said it was hilarious. And I just rolled with them.”
“I think the book has given a certain kind of license to parents to feel some of these frustrations they are going through, and feel a little less isolated,” he said, adding “ it seems to have opened a little bit of dialogue about parenting, and the struggle to put the kid to bed - and I am happy to be a part of it. I did it for my own amusement, as a reflection of my own struggles. I wanted to be honest."
How did you come up with the front page design, with the moon covering the f-word?
"It was something we thought about for a while, Mansbach said, “we knew we couldn't have ‘fuck’ on the cover. So we were thinking about different ways to disguise it. And my illustrator came up with this idea of using the moon to obscure it. And we knew that this was going to work."
Following the publication, did you hear anything from other parents that surprised you?
"It's all kind of a blur, honestly. I've probably done more than a thousand interviews, and I can't remember what people asked me two months ago or two days ago. I am used to going on with a novel, my novels used to be a polemical and political take on social issues in a serious way - so I had my talking points on the book, knowing what I want to say and how I want to use the book to push some kind of social discourse," Mansbach told Haaretz.
“In this case, I don't need to prepare," he added, “I just sort of answer honestly, because it's a very simple book that I wrote, in a very simple way - and I am just allowing myself a luxury of just enjoying answering these things as they come.”
Is it true that the next step is a film based on the book, along with a children’s version of the book?
Mansbach confirmed, saying "both are true, there is a film version coming and there is going to be the G-rated version."
What's the point of doing this book for kids? And how you are going to extract the key phrase, that is obviously not suited for kids?
"A lot of kids might appreciate the book if it's written in a sort of censored version,” Mansbach said, explaining that children “recognize themselves very quickly in this mischievous character who is evading his parents' attempts to make him go to sleep. For them, it's sort of a game in a war - and they appreciate something that gives light to their tactics. It's not like "search and replace" kind of editing, it's more rewriting the book for younger audience."
Do you curse a lot?
"I would like to think that I curse expertly - it's not something that I do without considering it. I never curse without intending to; it's not something I resort to because of inability to articulate or find the correct word. I do it when a curse IS the correct word. I don't do it in front of my daughter, but I tend to curse in front of my students quite a bit though - as a calculated form of pedagogy."
And no, he hasn't been to Israel yet, but he might come, if invited - after all, his book will be published soon in Hebrew.