Father Knows Less –Wendell Jamieson

Jamieson, city editor for the New York Times, whose seven-year-old son, Dean, has been in full-bore question mode for the past few years, decided that the best strategy for giving Dean the answers was also to give himself a challenge. He would get each answer from a real person who knows it by heart, whose very livelihood depends on the knowledge that Jamieson would present without sugarcoating or simplification. The result is a compendium of hilariously insightful questions from kids (age seven and under) with often insightfully hilarious answers from adults ranging from a doctor discussing the difference between somatic and neuropathic pain (What would hurt more: getting run over by a car or getting stung by a jellyfish?) to a dominatrix explaining Mach 1 air speed (If you don’t hit anything with it, how does a whip make that noise?). Jamieson helpfully organizes the questions by theme into chapters, although his introductory anecdotes to each, while amusing, should have been drastically reduced to make room for more questions. Too bad this funny and fascinating book is coming out in September: it makes a perfect Father’s Day gift for any dad whose child has ever asked, Why is the sky blue? or Why do we have eyebrows? or What does ‘sexy’ mean?

–It’s amusing for the most part. The questions are some that my kids have asked me (why is the sky blue, etc), but I don’t think some of the explanations/experts are appropriate for the age group of the child asking the questions for example; having a dominatrix answer the question of “If you don’t hit anything with it, how does a whip make that noise?”. I don’t know about you, but in my house, that would just beget more questions about what a dominatrix is, why someone would want one, so on and so forth.

I recommend this as a “bathroom-reader” for adults.


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