Do any of the following apply to you? (Answer Yes or No.) Have you ever been, have you ever had, are you about to have, or are you considering at any time in the future having a baby?
Babies are strange. They enter our lives, and things are never the same again. In this extraordinary book, Ian Sansom (father of three) writes about human beings in their first year of life, and the cataclysmic effect they have on those around them.
At a time when most books about babies are either manuals crammed with milestones and measurements , The Truth about Babies is unique. It is written as a series of meditations on every aspect aspect of babies, from bathing, boredom, breastfeeding and buggies to weaning, weight, words and work. Sansom manages to be both playful and profound, both philosophical and earthy—and frequently very funny.
Ian Sansom on The Truth About Babies
When we first had a baby and still had money in our pockets I could not find a single baby book that I wanted to read.
I found that I didn't want a manual or a reference book, and I didn't want a joke book. I didn't want pictures. I didn't want a book about fatherhood or motherhood. I didn't want a novel, and I definitely did not want an anthology of poems. I did not want advice, and I did not want other people's complaints, or statements of their own good intentions. I didn't want sludge, slurry, emotional slither or sentimentality. I didn't want to be patronized, and I didn't want self-help. I didn't want Technicolor, but I didn't want black and white either.
I think what I wanted, what I was after, was some kind of benediction, but I also wanted someone to tell me the truth. I wanted someone to make the true seem beautiful and the beautiful true—just the usual.
I wanted something that I could give to friends without embarrassment and say "This is what it's like." I wanted feeling, and conscience. I wanted someone to capture the charm of a person. I wanted a book that had the attraction of fiction with none of its disadvantages: characters, plot, long plodding descriptive passages. I wanted more than a pious statement of hopefulness—more than a preface. More than a catalogue of experiences. I wanted no aesthetic mistakes.
I still haven't found it.
This is the alternative.
Funny, brave, touching and true: the exhaustion, shock and queasy compromise of new parenthood are evoked by Sansom with terrifying honesty — but all parents everywhere will recognise that it's really a book about love.
— Julie Myerson
For those who have waded through shelves of works by psychologists and pediatricians and would like a profoundly funny and wise book on the subject, The Truth About Babies is one of the most interesting and literate meditations available.
— Robert Faggen, The Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2002