Review: The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom

The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom by Daniel Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

TNote: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. his review is focused on both the book and audiobook. While many believe the battle of the sexes is with the opposite sex, “The Bastard on the Couch,” refreshingly reminds us that the battle is in our own minds. In this age where women are attaining and men are encouraging an equality of the sexes, many from both sides are still trying to overcome their own obstacles. In this engaging audiobook, both men and women speak out about their lives in contrast to the gender expectations for both their partners and their own.

HarperAudio advertises and describes “The Bastard on the Couch” as the second half to Cathi Hanauer’s “The Bitch in House.” For the book form, this is true; however, the audiobook adapts and abridges both “The Bastard on the Couch” and “The Bitch in the House,” alternating essays from one book to the other. This is a great idea, but unfortunately, for those purchasing online, you are never told that “The Bastard on the Couch” is a compilation of both. Where this becomes a problem is that if you buy both audiobooks, you get the about six essays from “The Bastard on the Couch” that are repeated in “The Bitch in House.” Virtually nowhere online (even the publisher’s site) can you find the full explanation that this is actually an abridgment of two books.

Overall, this audiobook should be required reading for everyone. Many of the essays are moving and thought-provoking, often challenging the listener to reflect on the past and consider their own misconceptions and stereotypes about gender. These essays also forge past that and identify problems both large and small that people don’t consider when deciding to share their life with a partner. The editors have created a work that allows both men and women to learn to appreciate their roles and gain new respect for the opposite sex. The audiobook also highlights the perspectives of nontraditional gender roles and relationships.

The audiobook highlights great similarities in the frustration between the sexes. Essays from both male and female often reflected on parents and childhood as a point of comparison or justification of their current actions. Each side delivers admirable laments about the injustices and displacements that come with relationships. Particularly in this “age of equality,” when both men and women have standards and exact rules of living, they come to find themselves living lives that they never anticipated. These essays articulate the moments when expectation clashes with reality.

Each author narrates their own piece, which adds spice to the whole production and keeps your attention for each of the essays. While some of the authors read convincingly and sound quite professional, others come very short. Helen Schulman reads a very sentimental story about holding onto her mother’s wedding ring while her mother is dying, in “My Mother’s Ring.” At times, she sounds as if she is crying while reading her piece. While it is understandable to be upset, the listener becomes distracted by the crying. But this is the exception and not the rule. Some of the narrators read their piece perfectly with great intonation and speed.

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