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Lost in Fatherhood, a book review

"Reading Lost in Space by Ben Tanzer" copyright 2014 Kristin Fouquet

I began reading Lost in Space: A Father’s Journey There and Back Again by Ben Tanzer on June 3rd, 2014. The date is significant to me because it was the 22nd anniversary of my father’s death. This wasn’t consciously premeditated; I just sort of picked it up that day and realized the coincidence.

Tanzer attempts to navigate through the role of parent via memories of his deceased father and experiences with his own sons. He employs creative devices in these essays as well. In “The Penis Stories,” he loosely veils the identity of his two boys by giving them aliases while understanding full well the reader clearly knows who is who. In “Anatomy of the Story,” he cleverly begins with the end and ends with the beginning.

With honesty, poignancy, and humor, Tanzer conveys the vulnerability conscientious parents share in the raising of children. “No Avoiding That” demonstrates how time-outs work as much for the parents to cool down, or more so, as for the children who are sentenced to them.

For this reader, the only challenge with this collection was its reliance on many pop cultural references which eluded me. One such example is the essay, “The Don Draper Interlude: A Mad Men Guide to Raising Children.” Of course, this is not Tanzer’s fault; it is my own for being so hopelessly unhip.

As I delved further into Lost in Space, I found myself reflecting on my own father. I contemplated the important decisions he was forced to make, many of them without the luxury of time, reflection, or guidance. At the age of thirteen, he attempted to wake his own father up from an after-work nap only to find him dead. I wondered how lost he must have felt as a father after having such a short relationship with his own.

I am grateful Tanzer allowed this peek into his life as a son and as a father with all its fears, hopes, denials, and joys. I believe this book is one he will always be proud of and also a beautiful gift to his sons. Oh, and speaking of gifts, Father’s Day is next Sunday. Why not order a copy for all the great dads in your life?


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  2. If in New Orleans, Ben's book is available at Maple Street Book Shop. Support this local business if you can.


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