Sunday, 15 June 2014

Favourite fictional father: Ben Healy in Problem Child #bookaday

Day 15 of the #bookaday challenge. Who is your favourite fictional father? Well, I don’t mind admitting that this one stumped me. Dads don’t seem to be that common in the books I read, living dads even less so. They tend to need avenging, deposing, finding or replacing. For example, here are the last ten novels I read, and what I could find about the dads in them:

  1. The Buried Life, Carrie Patel: Jane is an orphan.
  2. God’s War, Kameron Hurley: Nyx “has never known a father”, Rhys’s father disowned him and is dead.
  3. Child of a Hidden Sea, A.M. Dellamonica: can’t be specific without giving away plot details, but he’s no Doctor Huxtable.
  4. Ghost Train to New Orleans, Mur Lafferty: adoptive parents elsewhere, mentioned, but unaffectionate; birth parents missing or dead.
  5. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett: Shara is an orphan.
  6. Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor: the father of Adaora’s children quickly turns nasty.
  7. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison: Maia was exiled to the middle of nowhere by his father, the Emperor Varenechibel the Fourth, who dies at the beginning of the book, leaving Maia an orphan.
  8. Costume Not Included, Matthew Hughes: the previous novel in the series explains that Chesney’s dad, Wagner Arnstruther, “departed for parts unknown with a waitress he met at a truck stop”.
  9. New Amsterdam, Elizabeth Bear: Jack says “my parents couldn’t afford to feed me; they indentured me at five”.
  10. Template, Matthew Hughes: Conn says, “As an infant, I was sold anonymously to my indentor, Ovam Horder.”

So sod it, I’ve gone for a fictional dad who wasn’t in a book. Ben Healy in Problem Child, as played by the wonderful John Ritter. He adopts the child from hell, a little boy whose penpal is Martin “The Bow Tie Killer” Beck. Junior destroys Ben’s life, takes away everything: possessions, reputation, wife, job, sanity. By film two they’ve been forced to leave town. And yet he keeps trying to do his best for the kid. An example to us all!

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