On the surface, fatherhood may sound a little like a rather narrow subject matter, but, when I started putting together my story and looking into previous examples of paternity in fiction, the amount which presented themselves seemed incalculable in both number and permutations: the question of what it means to be or to have a dad has been a constant throughout literature. From Telemachus and Odysseus through to Seamus Heaney, JM Coetzee and Wole Soyinka (to name a handful of Nobel laureates), the ways in which the father-son dynamic can be enacted and utilised are myriad, the expectations and realisations timeless, and the tensions, fears, joys, fulfillments – these all pull you close to the core of what constitutes the human experience.
Anyway, as well as my own story, in Being Dad there is also fiction from some other amazing, top-notch father-writers: Dan Rhodes, Toby Litt, Nikesh Shukla, Nicholas Royle, Courttia Newland, Dan Powell, Rodge Glass, R.J. Price, Tim Sykes, Lander Hawes, Andrew McDonnell, Iain Robinson, Richard W. Strachan and Samuel Wright. All very exciting. The book will be available next year but you can pre-order it from as little as £5 from the Kickstarter page with the option to add various exciting extras should you so wish.
My story is rather catchily titled ‘=VLOOKUP(E2,‘[Turnover year end 2015.xls]Q1SalesLeads’!$E$2:$F$1001,2,0’ and, by way of an appetite-whetter, here’s the opening section:
=VLOOKUP(E2,‘[Turnover year end 2015.xls]Q1SalesLeads’!$E$2:$F$1001,2,0
His typing is interrupted by his phone buzzing in his pocket. He takes it out, sees that it is his wife calling him then slips it back into his pocket. He places his hands back over his keyboard and closes his eyes and focuses on the sounds beyond his booth – the photocopier on the other side of his partition wall, the quiet chatter in the rest of the office, the hushed traffic moving through the streets outside – whilst he waits for the buzzing to stop. Then he resumes typing, completing the formula.
His job is research. He finds business contacts for the company’s sales department, investigates them and assesses their value. He has the basics in front of him, their companies’ profits and turnovers, their salaries and the numbers of staff under them, their areas of expenditure: the usual. He is almost done. But he has some additional information which he thinks will impress Malcolm. Information on the strongest competitors of his current list of contacts: like-for-like figures on people in similar roles in similar companies in similar sectors. Similar, but similar is not identical.
He stares at his spreadsheet. Almost done, but not quite.
He has had an idea. He could look at the ages of the individuals he is researching, then compare the patterns of their behaviour to other professionals in their age-ranges. He could do a great number of things. There is a great deal of information he could find which would help Sales build strong relationships and which–
His phone buzzes again and then stops again. It does this a further three times. Each time, he stops his work, shuts his eyes and listens to the sounds of the office around him.
‘Let us be gentle when we question our fathers, wrote poet Anne Carson. In Being Dad, fathers and those who are fathered are gently and variously examined from angles tender, comic and disturbing. These stories beautifully evoke the joyousness, confusion and pain of family, the tangled threads that wrap around us from the past and fling us, with hope, into our future.’ - Tania Hershman