"A Portrait of My Dad" by George W. Bush is typical of a very narrow genre. That niche in the book market frames the patriarch of the family as the wise giver of values. Those values had shaped the leader who is the author of what might be called "GushLit."
There's a market for that. Published way back in November 2014, the book is still at the 3,761 ranking. Another GushLit dad biography was Tim Russert's "Big Russ and Me." That, too, was a hit.
Maybe they sell so well because they relay to us, whose fathers were not all that patrician, what it could have been like. In our fantasy lives we can put together a do-over: Here are dad and me, an efficient, productive team.
The platform for GushLit was the sugary 1950s programming on television. A lost, chubby kid, whose father was never there even when there, I considered the series "Father Knows Best" as sacred stuff.
Jim Anderson, who sat at the head of the table, knew exactly what to say to Kitten when she suffered even a slight growing pain. My goal was to buy the kind of house which the Andersons lived in. And that I did. Yes, it did make me feel found, at least for a while.
The ugly part of not having a dad like Bush Senior or Big Russ is that, at least females tend to replicate the deficit situation in all our male relationships. That too I did. For clients, for soulmates, and for friends, I chose badly. But miracles of miracles that pattern can be blown up.
Here, on the other side of America from where I started my life, I now have the perfect dad.
He listens. But not too much. After all, he's not a patsy. Then with one sentence, the emotional boo-boo heals or the professional code is broken. Recently, he developed a breathing problem. Like The Good Daughter, I am helping him out. Instinctively I know what to say and do. This is the first time in my life a relationship has been easy. If he lives long enough I might have enough material for GushLit.