Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Out Today: Ron Fournier's "Love That Boy"

Today is a big day: It's the release date for Ron Fournier's book Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations. This book is going to be important to a lot of people. You can get it here, or at bookstores starting today.

Regular readers of this blog know that Ron and I go way back; when we were 17 we co-edited the school paper and ran near-identical times on the cross-country and track teams.  We took the bus to Iowa City to attend the Iowa Young Writer's Studio, collecting adventures along the way.  We have stayed in touch even as our paths diverged and then converged again, and lately we have even collaborated.  Now, it seems, we are publishing memoirs in the same year.

Though, it might be that his is better. I have read Love That Boy, and was deeply affected by it. It's not a re-telling of Ron's remarkable career as a journalist, but rather focuses on his role as a parent. In particular, it lays out some of the joys and challenges of raising his third child and only son, Tyler, who has Asperger's Syndrome.  I had the pleasure of reading the book a few months ago.

Too often, these stories turn into a celebration of the virtue of the parent and a lament for the troubles he or she faced. There is none of that here, as those who know Ron's writing would well know. He is a rare commentator in that he admits his own mistakes and frailties up front, yet is fearless in confronting the powerful.  The same spirit animates this more personal story arc, in that he describes his stumbles and errors as part of a richer tale that he knows is grander than himself. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are characters in the book-- important ones-- but not as important as Tyler or the towering figure of Ron's father, a Detroit cop who made sense in a time and place (Detroit in the 1970's) that often lacked those figures. I knew Ron's dad, and he made a strong impression on me: when I thought of a police officer, I thought of him, and when I went into law enforcement it was in my mind that I was going to be working in league with people like Mr. Fournier. Sometimes, that was true.

Ron Fournier could sit around and tell war stories about famous people for days, if he was that kind of person. He's not, though, and it is the human scale of this very human story that makes it important and real and moving. It's not about a famous guy and the people he met. It's about a kid with some issues and a dad with some issues, and that's pretty much the deal with us all when the truth is laid bare.

So, go ahead and buy it.  And, of course, you can pre-order my book now, too. I'm not sure if Jerry Stitzel (the guy pictured between Ron and I in the photo below) has written a book, but if he has I'll bet that would be pretty interesting, too.

Wonderful interview of Ron on Morning Joe this AM. This is such a great, touching story ... and without knowing him ... a big part of what make this so compelling is Ron’s candor and his authenticity. Seems like such a great guy ... and I trust he is. Very, very impressive. A wonderful father-son story ... and spectrum issues or not ... the humbling struggle for all fathers (parents) to love their sons (and daughters) in an unqualified, unconditional manner for who they are, and vice-versa. And although I have never been a fan of W ... what a great, loving gift of friendship W gave to Ron and his son ... apparently equal parts affirmation, admonition, and permission. With all the best intentions, I have stumbled there as well. A key element is being married to a Lori; hard to go wrong with that.
Love that Ron Fournier! An important book by a great American citizen and amazing human being. Fournier is the best!
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