Adam Mansbach just wants his kid to go the bleep to sleep


First aired on The Current (15/06/11)

"The windows are dark in the town child, the whales huddle down in the deep. I'll read you one very last book if you swear you'll go the f**k to sleep."

The quote above is from an unusual children's book blazing up the bestselling charts. The catch? It's a children's book for adults. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes is currently sitting at #1 on the bestseller list even though it became available in stores only a few days ago. Thanks to a whimsical but controversial premise and an uncontrollable viral campaign, Mansbach is a sleep-deprived-dad-turned-bestselling author.

Mansbach got the inspiration for the controversial story after struggling to get his own young daughter to settle down at bedtime. She was not a difficult or unpleasant child, she just refused to go to sleep and Mansbach found that as she got older, bedtime became a longer and longer ritual — which cut into his free time in the evening.

"You realized that this tiny sliver of time you had carved out to have a conversation or do some work or read a book or just relax was shrinking," Mansbach told The Current host Anna Maria Tremonti in a recent interview. "There's the sense of never knowing when you're going to get out of that room. it seems in that room that it could indeed be for the rest of your life."

While the inspiration for the book came from his daughter, Mansbach never dreamed it would go beyond a joke he posted on his Facebook wall, then told at parties. But it just snowballed from there, and once he decided to write the book, the story came easily and quickly. "I wrote the book in two sittings," he admitted.

But the train didn't stop there. The book was originally slated for publication in October, but after Mansbach did a few readings, sales shot through the roof online, and the publisher pushed up the sales date. The book leaked online, and even being able to read it online, for free, drove the book up the bestselling charts.

So what does Mansbach make of this success? He thinks he simply tapped into a dialogue new parents aren't having. "I think it's cathartic for a lot of parents," Mansbach said. "I get a lot of emails from people who are saying 'I feel much less alone now.'... It legitimizes the way they actually feel."

As for critics of the book, Mansbach argues that it's essentially about being a good parent. The foul language is never directed at the children, and Mansbach believes that struggling with parenting and not living up to expectations doesn't make one a bad parent. "You have these frustrations but you don't let them affect your kid," he said. It is these frustrations that makes him, and others, real, normal parents. Mansbach thinks this is a message more new parents need to hear.

While Mansbach sees nothing wrong with his tongue-in-cheek children's book, he's received a lot of flack for it. Which has us wondering: do you think Mansbach went too far in expressing his frustrations?

Below, listen to Samuel L. Jackson read the audio version of this book.

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"Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach's verses perfectly capture the familiar — and unspoken — tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations, and laugh at their absurdity.."


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