This is a guest post by Caleb J Ross as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. His goal is to post at a different blog every few days beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. He would love to compromise your integrity for a day. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb
Growing up, the most intimidating man in my life was not my father. The most intimidating man in my life was perhaps the father figure from Ren & Stimpy
I never had a father of my own, so I absorbed—subconsciously or no—fatherly lessons from the men and male peers around me. I was never the leader. Never the authority on the playground. I was always the low rung on the ladder. I accepted this role, and today I’ve even learned to embrace it. To this day I tend to play the role of the bumbling apprentice.
I never cared much about tools, or sports, or pussy. And still today, the first two of those three don’t thrill me at all. Lacking the stable father figure gave me a warped “cartoon family” mentality about dads (and to an extent, about family in general). To me, fathers come in two flavors: the slapstick, endearing oaf and the strict disciplinarian. There is no middle ground in cartoons and therefore no middle ground in real life. I am the former. Ask my wife, even in the most inappropriate situations I’d offer a quick one-liner before I’d capitalize on the chance to teach my child a life lesson.
So to me, the extreme, anger-fueled father figure from Ren & Stimpy represented a reality that I was always glad to have avoided. My father could have been this man. I could have been raised in his image. I could have cared about sports. Dear God!
This unique relationship I have with the fatherly roles makes the themes explored in Stranger Will even more interesting, I think. On its surface, the novel is a story of a man unsure of his impeding role as a father. His fiancée is seven months pregnant; this man is further than two months from accepting this role. Deeper, the story is about what it means to carry on for another generation. Why do we have children? Surely, we aren’t controlled by instinct; humans are ethically independent creatures. The only answer I could come up with is that another generation represents another chance at perfection. But we all know there is no such thing as perfection, right? And thus the dilemma for our soon-to-be-father.