Confessions of The World’s Best Father by Dave Engledow. Gotham, 2014. 9781592408894.
Sarah: This is Confessions of the World’s Best Father by Dave Engledow
Gene: Who’s Dave Engledow?
S: He’s a photographer and a photojournalist who started taking these pictures of himself with his daughter. Each picture has him, his daughter, and his World’s Best Father Mug.
G: (laughs) On the cover he’s arm-wrestling her on a box.
S: On a crate of hand grenades.
G: Oh! I didn’t see that. And his daughter has a barbed wire tattoo on her bicep.
S: He does some Photoshop on the pictures. He arranges the pictures in the book by how old his daughter is.
G: “Day 240” (laughs) They’re playing X-Box together!
S: I don’t know if you can see the games…
G: I see Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto… and Call of Duty! I was talking to Bill Barnes, he was asking how early I played video games with my daughter. I couldn’t remember! She was always watching me play, so she wanted to play. I think we started with Katamari Damacy.
S: Oh, yeah, that’s a really good kid game.
G: Another on we played, some Marvel comics thing, I remember it had a level where you go to hell and fight demon hordes. She was playing as Thor and the demon hordes were gnawing on her back. And as they’re gnawing on her the controller shakes and she started freaking out. She was crying. My wife came around the corner and told my daughter to stop playing. She said, “No! I want to keep playing!!!” through her tears.
S: This is a tribute to that kind of father-daughter bonding. He tells little stories on the side. This one is about how his wife is reading all these books about child development and educational toys. So he spends some money to buy an educational toy they can use together.
G: And it’s the X-Box.
S: So this picture is him teaching his daughter how to make a martini for his wife when she comes home from work.
G: (laughs) Nice! That’s beautiful! The mess, the olives!
S: And she looks so delighted, sitting on the counter.
In this next one, he’s brought his wife into the picture. They’re doing a kind of Indy 500 race around kitchen island with battery-powered kid-size four-wheelers.
G: His wife is keeping track of the laps. It’s great that his daughter is looking back at him with disdain.
S: This is one of the really Photoshop-ey ones where she’s doing an Evel Knievel jump over her dad with a Big Wheel.
G: And it’s clearly inside the house. She’s two years old?
S: Here’s one where they visited mom in Korea when she was posted there for a year in the military. There are a bunch of pictures of them in the apartment in Korea where he makes his daughter make dinner…
G: They’re making kimchi! His foot is in the kimchi pot lid. That’s not how you do it, Sarah. I got lessons from my mother-in-law.
S: That’s why I wanted to show you that page.
G: Here they’re reading Ten Apples Up On Top. Oh, the hand grenade box is there again, too. That’s great. And here he’s the thing in her closet.
S: He’s trying to convince her not to be afraid by being a hideous masked monster.
G: I love this book, it’s fantastic. Show me one more picture.
S: He got his daughter to help out with the ironing.
G: There’s burn marks all over the shirt, including the shirt he’s wearing! That’s brilliant.
S: He’s got tips in the back on how to take photos of your kids.
G: What’s his best tip?
S: My favorite is “know when it’s time to take a break,” which has pictures of him setting up photos where she is just flipping out, crying.