Short Takes

Short Takes: Book reviews, in brief

From staff reportsJune 15, 2013 

More Father’s Day reads

Still looking for that perfect gift to offer Dad? Here are some books that are sure to please:

“Dad Is Fat,” by Jim Gaffigan (Crown, 288 pages): The standup comic brings hilarious insight to his life with five young children. In the foreword, he tells them, “Given how attractive and fertile your mother is, there may be more of you by the time you read this book. If you are reading this, I am probably dead.”

“How to Cook Like a Man,” by Daniel Duane (Bloomsbury, 224 pages): Wishing to contribute more to the household, Duane took on “dinner duty” and expanded his repertoire beyond stir-fry and pasta. Soon, he became cookbook-obsessed.

“Big Daddy’s Rules,” by Steve Schirripa (Touchstone, 240 pages): We knew him as Bobby on “The Sopranos,” but his two daughters know him as Dad. Here he offers other parents the benefit of his hard-earned parenting advice. Yes, he’s funny, but he’s not kidding.

“A Father First,” by Dwyane Wade (William Morrow, 352 pages): Though the Miami Heat guard is an NBA superstar, his first priority is being the best dad he can be to his two sons. Wade won sole custody of them in 2011.

“I’m Not Gonna Lie,” by George Lopez (Celebra, 288 pages): Now that he’s turned 50, the comedian/actor/talk-show host tells all about his new reality. “You know what I said about being fine with turning 50?” he writes. “I lied. I suddenly realize I’m old.”

“Tell My Sons,” by Lt. Col. Mark M. Weber (Ballantine, 240 pages): At the height of his career, the 38-year-old father of three was diagnosed with a terminal disease. His legacy to his sons is this book – a letter of love and life lessons.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Fiction

If You Were Here

Alafair Burke, Harper, 384 pages

McKenna Wright, a writer for New York City magazine, is investigating a corrupt judge when she hears of a woman rescuing a teen who had fallen onto subway tracks. After the woman pulled him to safety, she ran away. Cameras in the area malfunctioned, and the only video Wright sees is from a shaky cellphone.

Watching the blurry images, McKenna believes the woman is her friend Susan Hauptmann. However, that would be impossible, because Susan disappeared 10 years ago.

The more McKenna looks into what happened, the more she appears to be thwarted. The cellphone video vanishes, and the article she was writing about the judge blows up in her face. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Neither do the police. With nowhere to go, McKenna decides the answers are 10 years in the past. What she finds will not be pleasant.

Alafair Burke excels in writing compelling character-driven stories mixed with baffling mysteries. It’s difficult at times to understand why Susan was McKenna’s best friend and how their friendship endured, but that’s a minor quibble. The questions raised will have introspective readers looking in the mirror while they try to solve the mystery.

Associated Press

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