Following Foo: (the electronic adventures of The Chestnut Man)

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9780060529536: Following Foo: (the electronic adventures of The Chestnut Man)

Every now and then there comes along a literary voice so strong, so originally sincere, and so uniquely distinct that the words on the page seem to sing and to scream and to dance -- all at once and all on their own. Such is the wonderful writing debut of acclaimed actor B.D. Wong.

With a remarkable mixture of upbeat optimism, unexpected hilarity, and heart-wrenching sadness, Wong takes the reader deep inside both his psyche and the neonatal intensive care unit where he spent the better part of three months following the harrowing medical twists and turns that took place after the premature birth of his twins."Once upon a time," as Wong explains in his true story, Following Foo: (the electronic adventures of the Chestnut Man), "my partner and I found ourselves expecting, with the help of a surrogate mother, modern medical science, and lots of good luck and prayers. To add to our blessing, she was carrying twins! Things were pretty swell ... until the twins arrived almost three months early. For those of you who don't know, babies that come almost three months early are pretty little, and boy are they scary-looking. Especially when you're their dad ... "

Originally based on a series of real-time E-mails sent to keep his friends and family abreast of the daily madness and miracles of "early" parenthood, this book is a gem, a joy, and an inspiration to anyone who has ever taken a ride on the roller coaster of life and tried to keep both sense of humor and sanity intact.

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Review:

High tech meets high touch in actor B.D. Wong’s remarkable electronic parenting memoir, Following Foo The story begins when the surrogate mother, carrying twins for Wong and longtime partner Richie, gives birth 11 weeks early. The loss of the first twin and the anguished nurturing of the tiny Foo are described in a series of e-mails for friends, family and theatrical colleagues, whose responses are also reprinted. Readers ride the roller coaster of Foo’s surgeries, eye exams, pneumonia scares, dropping heart rate, and brochospasms. Although Wong is writing about a unique situation, he manages to capture the fear and awe that every parent will recognize.

Wong’s wiry alertness, sly show-business humor, and aching vulnerability are a potent mix. In one e-mail, he captures the terror and tenderness of the intensive-care nursery. In another, he celebrates Foo’s first, long- awaited "poop." He overeats, describes his parents in loving detail, and leaves the door of a hospital refrigerator (packed with frozen breast milk) wide open. The author’s voice crackles with love, energy and astute observation. Occasionally his essays--for example, one written from baby Foo’s perspective--seem forced. Also, the decision to include the name-dropping "credits" of the friends who responded to his e-mails mar this otherwise exceptional tale. Still, these don't obscure the book's charms. Early in the book, Wong compares his newborn son to "a little chestnut man—a wise old man selling chestnuts on a snowy night." By the book’s end, it is Wong’s hard-won wisdom that will warm readers. --Barbara Mackoff

About the Author:

B. D. Wong made his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly. He is the only actor to be honored with the Tony Award®, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and Theater World Award for the same performance.

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