Off-campus SJSU users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your SJSU library user name and PIN.

Publication Date

Summer 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Cathleen Miller


Children, Family, Humor, Love, nonfiction, Sex

Subject Areas

Language arts; Fine arts; Literature


The Reluctant Family Man is a collection of nonfiction essays that explore what it means to be a father in the twenty-first century. The concept of a family has changed within only the last generation. Forty years ago, IVF was not an option, fathers certainly would not have had their sperm counted, and they also would not have been in the delivery room. Additionally, interracial and interfaith marriages were far less prevalent.

The essays are written with a dry sense of humor in the fashion of writers like David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell, while having the strong authorial voice of someone like Tom Wolfe, ready to point out whenever necessary. By using a present narrative style, mild cynicism is sometimes engaged in as a form of prolepsis where the opposing opinions are considered and then, in an effort to strengthen the authorial voice, dismissed.

The Reluctant Family Man focuses on the events and individuals in my life who have influenced the way that I interact with my children. It also examines what it takes to be a family man, including a modern sex talk with my son or how to respond to the sudden and unexpected loss of a job. The essays, combined, paint a picture of a man who never thought he would be a family man and who has grown to accept and relish his new role.