Go the F—k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
Read by Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Bedtime Story
Quick Thoughts: A Shocking amount of profanity makes this bedtime story a questionable choice for children.
Warning: Review may contain mild story spoilers
Often times, when questioned by my therapist, or an ex-girlfriend or two why I am the way I am, I explain simply that my mother never read bedtime stories to me as a child. At least, I don’t remember her doing so. No Goodnight Moon, no Purple Crayons or Pokey puppies. She did not read to me in my bed, she did not read to me with her head. Now, I don’t blame her, I had two younger brothers, one of them a severe bedwetter, who required her bedtime attentions, and, well she was a single mother of four. Plus, Big Bird and Grover taught me to read at a really young age. So, it was with a sort longing brought about by deep psychological trauma that I gave a listen to Go the F–k Asleep by Adam Mansbach from Audible. Now, while the pricing of this tale of a father struggling with doubts of his quality of parenthood while attempting to lull his child to sleep appealed to my frugality, my psyche was further hampered upon discovering the reading of the book was done by Samuel L. Jackson. You see, ever since watching a pre-release showing of Shaft, I wanted Samuel L. Jackson to be my father. I was 26 when that movie came out. Well, enough about me, let’s talk about the book.
On the surface, Go the Fuck to Sleep, is a poetic bedtime story. I was shocked by some of the risks Mansbach took with his poetry, often breaking away from the Iambic pentameter. Some of the rhythms of the tale of all the creatures that were sleeping during the nearly 40 minute long attempt by the anonymous father to encourage his child to join them were hampered by the obvious emotions of the situation. When the father would yell out things like, “F__K your stuffed bear, I ain’t getting you shit” I feel even a child would find the pacing awkward at best. I also had some concerns with the accuracy of the story. I am pretty sure that some of the animals mentioned are nocturnal, and others, like whales, may not operate on the same sleep schedule as humans. Also, some of the wording was poor, allowing us to assume that cubs and lions were huddled together, which is highly unlikely. Maybe better editing would have helped make this book a little more consistent. Despite these problems, I feel the book did a good job capturing the feel of a child’s bedtime story, although the ones I remember reading, by myself, never had as much cursing.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson narrates this tale. I feel he really nailed the asides made by the father like, “I know you’re not thirsty, that’s bullshit. Stop lying.” yet his overall reading of the more mundane childlike poetry about field mice and sparrows lacked the same level of oomph. I would like to see what someone like Christopher Walker or Bob Dylan would have done with the reading. I did enjoy the lullaby tunes that played in the background. I never really got to listen to lullabies as a child, although my dad did often play “I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues” by Elton John at nighttime when I was trying to sleep on weekend visits. Maybe the lullabies would have calmed my nightmares, but here, they play perfect counterpoint to the emotional outburst of the father. While I enjoyed the satiric and caustic nature of Go the Fuck to Sleep, I wonder if it would have made a better betimes story if the profanity and abusive nature of the father was toned down. I don’t think I would buy this book, or play the audiobook for my children. Of course, I have no children, but I have 5 nephews and a niece and I would leave it up to their parents to decide whether this was appropriate for them. I probably wouldn’t recommend it though. You know, for kids.