A Personal Journey
Buzz Bissinger has so many awards for his writing that I’m not sure where he can keep them all: the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, the National Headliners Award among many others. He is best known for his nonfiction book Friday Night Lights. His newest book is called Father’s Day, a deeply personal and moving book about his relationship with his two sons. Born premature and just minutes apart, his twin boys ended up very different because of a few precious minutes.
After reading his newest book about his son, I spoke with Buzz Bissinger about this very personal story.
I described this story, or as the subtitle aptly points out, this journey, to someone recently. I’m curious, though, how would you describe the book in a few words?
Father’s Day is a journey across the country. But it is really the journey of a lifetime, both to discover a son who is different from the mainstream and also my own journey to better understand myself and the degree to which my relationship with my own father, my ambition, my insecurities, have informed me as a parent and father.
In this very personal, and remarkably candid journey, we meet your entire family. But obviously the focus is on your extraordinary son, Zach. You take a cross country trip in part to know your son. I haven’t met him, but you can’t finish the book without feeling you know him as well as it may be possible to know him. When I finished, I flipped all the way back to the first pages where I underlined this: “I love my son deeply, but I do not feel I know him nor do I think I ever will.” By the end of the trip, did that change for you?
Yes. I found all sorts of emotions and abilities in Zach I never knew were there—remarkable empathy, his determination to be responsible and independent, his powers of observation even when I didn’t think he was paying any attention, his steadying influence upon me when I grew volatile.