If you open Dustin Parsons
’ new book, you’ll find maps, figures, footprints, a floor plan, silhouettes of roadside birds, charts of riverbed topography, origami directions for an owl in twenty-six folds, and an anatomized dog. What might surprise you—that is, what might surprise you in addition to finding all of these illustrations in a single book—is that Parsons uses them to illustrate his experience of fatherhood, not only that of being a father to two sons, but also of being the son of a father who used similar illustrations in his own work as an oilfield mechanic, a welder, an auto mechanic, a woodworker, and a host of other trades. It’s called Exploded View: Essays on Fatherhood, with Diagrams
(University of Georgia Press, 2018). From this fascinating view, Parsons gives us a highly unusual and highly moving memoir about what it means to be a father. He writes with the precision of an engineer and the lyrical sensibility of a poet, and this combination marks his keen viewpoint, one that allows him to bring remarkable precision to the messy emotions and dense experience of fatherhood.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently
In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at email@example.com.