What We’re Teaching Our Sons

What We’re Teaching Our Sons

Owen Booth

Pub date
Fourth Estate
Demy 135x204mm
192 pages
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Book Overview

Wise and funny, touching and true, What We’re Teaching Our Sons is for anyone who has ever wondered how to be a grown up.

We’re teaching our sons about money; about heartbreak, and mountains, and philosophy. We’re teaching them about the big bang and the abominable snowman and what happens when you get struck by lightning. We’re teaching them about the toughness of single mothers, and the importance of having friends who’ve known you longer than you’ve known yourself, and the difference between zombies and vampires.

We’re teaching them about sex, although everyone would be a lot happier if the subject had never come up…

Meet the married Dads, the divorced Dads, the widowed Dads and the gay Dads; the gamblers, the firemen, the bankers, the nurses, the soldiers and the milkmen. They’re trying to guide their sons through the foothills of childhood into the bewildering uplands of adulthood. But it’s hard to know if they’re doing it right.

Or what their sons’ mothers think…

Wise and funny, touching and true, What We’re Teaching Our Sons is for anyone who has ever wondered how to be a grown up.

About the author

Owen Booth is a journalist, copywriter and father of two sons. He lives in Walthamstow, London. He won the 2015 White Review Short Story Prize and was recently awarded 3rd prize in the Moth Short Story competition. His work has been published in numerous print and online magazines and anthologies.


  • ‘If you like the structure – setup, joke, setup, joke, setup, joke – then you’ll love What We’re Teaching Our Sons. If you don’t, well, there’s still plenty to occupy your attention, because the book is not just funny: there are tiny stories embedded throughout the endlessly repeated pattern, as if a Bridget Riley painting were populated between the lines with lots of Bruegel micro-portraits. The pattern is just the entry point, and all the little details and the insistent use of the first person plural entice the reader into a surprisingly rich fictional world’ Ian Sansom, Guardian
  • ‘Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers and Matt Haig’s How to be Human and Reasons to Stay Alive are contemporary counterpoints, but What We’re Teaching Our Sons feels highly original in scope … You start with a smile on your face and end with tears in your eyes. This is the way of this wonderful work’ Irish Times
  • ‘Booth pulls the rug out from under the novel form – not to mention a card-house of masculine archetypes – with tender, satirical, melancholy ease’ Joanna Walsh, author of Break.up
  • ‘I can’t remember the last time I read a book that so frequently reduced me to tears of laughter and painful recognition … one of the pleasures, beyond the wit and exuberance of the prose, is the joy of seeing a writer finding the absolutely perfect form for their work’ Luke Kennard, author of The Transition
  • ‘Formally bold, funny, sweetly sad and fiendishly clever, Booth finds, on the journey men take with their boys, a small, fertile, hitherto undiscovered island somewhere in the vast ocean between Donald Barthelme and Nick Hornby’ Will Ashon, author of Strange Labyrinth
  • ‘What We’re Teaching our Sons is remarkable. Booth has shone a light on the beautiful, flawed and complicated relationship between fathers and sons. I imagine there will be several bought, lent and lost copies of this book in my future’ Laura Pearson, The Motherload