Aaron Mcquiston's Reviews > The Good Father

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
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Apr 15, 2012

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Read in April, 2012

So. What makes a good father? According to Noah Hawley's novel, it is feeling so guilty about not having a relationship with your son that it almost makes you crazy when the son does something that is despicable, and even though you don't know your son at all, you need to insist on his innocence. As if the son's innocence of a crime will prove that the father is innocent of a crime (in this case not really caring about a child) as well. This is kind of harsh. Let me start over.

Noah Hawley's novel, "The Good Father" is the dynamic between a father who moved across the country from his ex-wife and son and had a new family with new sons. This dynamic is stretched to the limit when the son is accused of killing a prominent senator who is more than likely to become the next president. The father is sickened because he feels like he has done something wrong by not being his father in the sense of seeing him more than 30 days a year. I don't know. When it comes down to it, even though it is proven throughout the novel that the father is not guilty, that the son had his own agenda and world views, it still feels as if this does not let the father off the hook, thus not making him a good father.



Let me try to understand. Even though Daniel's family and Senator's family has the exact same structure, except that Daniel's is the oldest, and the Senator's oldest boy is dead so that Daniel sees the parallel between himself and the Senator's dead son, and even though Daniel's thoughts turn to murder after he meets the Senator and feels like he is a fraud. And he equates this fraudulent behavior to his father's behavior. And when he is killing the senator, he is in essence, killing his father, e.g. killing his ideal of having a loving leader in his life, someone who can be trusted and loyal, this is not the father's fault to some degree? I'm calling bullshit.


The first half of this novel really flies by, and I think some of the more interesting aspects of it is Noah Hawley's use of the other biographies of assassins to compare to this situation. I like the structure and the suspense. The last 100 pages or so start to really feel like that is nothing else for the narrator to hold onto, that all explanations are really moot, and that he is just banging his head against a wall. It is always tough for me to get through literary head banging. Finally in the end, "The Good Father" wraps itself nicely and gives the reader closure to the situation.
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