When his boy Zach was born, on one "suffocating" August day in 1983, Buzz Bissinger "just felt like walking away." The younger (by three minutes) of twins born 13 and a half weeks premature, Zach was severely mentally disabled, and his father, a journalist who would one day find fame with Friday Night Lights, could hardly handle it. "I also knew that if he survived, he would not remotely be the son I imagined," Bissinger writes. "Which is a nicer way of saying he would not remotely be the son I wanted." Nicer? Maybe...but visceral, arresting, and frank are better descriptions of Father's Day, Bissinger's account of a 2007 cross-country road trip he took with the then-24-year-old Zach. A self-confessed "cranky son of a bitch," Bissinger hadn't exactly abandoned Zach, but he'd never fully understood his son's mind and heart, either, thanks to divorce and admitted self-absorption; what the trip reveals is that the younger Bissinger isn't always the one who needs understanding. (The scene in which Buzz thinks he has lost his camera bag and anxious, impaired Zach must calm him down is a heartbreaking masterpiece of role reversal.) What is "normal"? And what does normal have to do with feelings? Those are the questions Bissinger explores in this unusual memoir about a very dysfunctional guy—and the son who loves him.
— Sara Nelson
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 12, 2013