"Go the F**k to Sleep" Author Tells Smith Magazine the Truth About Parenting

Family Matters on 06.10.11

Novelist Adam Mansbach has written three novels, a book of poetry, and a fictional take on U.S. history, but it was the 14-verse kids' book "Go The F**k to Sleep" that launched him into the mainstream. 

Inspired by one night's more frustrating than usual bedtime routine with his then-two-year-old daughter, Mansbach posted a Facebook status that read, "Look for my forthcoming children's book, 'Go the Fuck to Sleep'." Though he meant it as a joke, his friends encouraged him to bring it to life. He tells Smith magazine that he sent the PDF to a few different publishers -- one of whom leaked it onto the internet, where it became a viral sensation. The book made its way onto the Amazon charts before the PDF was even officially released (the hardcover comes out on June 19).

What makes the book such a hit, says Mansbach, is that it's basically saying out loud what all parents are thinking -- that parenthood isn't always so easy. 

...There’s a culture of both perfection and dishonesty about things like parenting. Part of the reason this book has been received so well is that it’s been cathartic to have people admit that it’s not good all the time. There’s all this preciousness around kids. At the same time, the parents in my book aren’t actually cursing at the kids. They’re actually being good parents; they’re not letting on that they’re about to explode.

But though friends have suggested building on the success of the book with more titles, like "Eat Your F**king Vegetables," Mansbach says he has no plans to turn the book into a series. "Everyone on Facebook is saying, 'Do a "Shut the F**k Up" book!' But I don’t have the urge to tell my kid to shut the f**k up. This book works because there’s an established notion of a bedtime book and I found a way to have fun with it."

More from Smith.

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Tags: Book Reviews