The Fun Master

This week’s other featured books, “Finding Grace,” by Maren Cooper and “Indiana Nocturnes,” by Curtis L Crider and Kevin McKelvey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.


THE BOOK: The Fun Master

: 2022

THE AUTHOR: Jeff Seitzer

: Brooke Warner


SUMMARY: A self-involved academic struggling to cope with his own neurological problems, Jeff could hardly take care of himself, let alone a child with special needs, when his son, Ethan, was born. But despite multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, serious breathing and swallowing problems, hearing loss, and a challenging social environment in his first months of life, Ethan thrived—all the while teaching Jeff to take things as they came. And eight years later, the arrival of adopted baby sister Penelope took Jeff’s on-the-job training to a whole new level.

THE BACK STORY: While my wife Janet was pregnant with our first child Ethan, I didn’t expect to be much involved in childcare. A self-involved academic with neurological problems, I was too busy with self-care to care for another person. Then, Ethan was born with several life-threatening conditions, forcing him to undergo two emergency surgeries as a newborn. After sharing a special moment with him before the first surgery, I decided to become his full-time caregiver. 

I was in way over my head. Most anyone might have been given Ethan’s all-encompassing medical care. “There are no standard operating procedures” for Ethan’s health challenges, in the words of my mother-in-law Aleta, who also suggested I keep a journal and publish some of the stories I shared with her about being a stay-at-home dad. 

I decided against publishing anything, because our son Ethan didn’t like being the center of attention. As he put it, “some people need to be the main character. But I don’t.” 

I continued to keep a journal, however, in order to remember the love we shared and fun we had together. Then, the unimaginable happened: Ethan drowned on a family-vacation two weeks shy of his tenth birthday. I almost drowned too. Underwater for several minutes, I was pulled to shore with my hands and feet blue from oxygen deprivation. While we were sinking together, my last thought before blacking out was I will not be able to tell his story. I believe that I survived in order to write this book. 

The Fun Master was inspired by Ethan and other children I encountered at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, who had no time for self-pity, anger, or exclusiveness. Girls with zipper scars on shaved heads giggling while sharing secrets on a hospital elevator; a boy using what little energy he had to play before a cardiology appointment; a toddler, hooked up to mobile monitors, beaming and kicking her legs with excitement while being wheeled down a hallway. If they can manage the business of being kids under such difficult conditions, I decided I should try to do a better job of being an adult. The Fun Master, publishing on August 16th, 2022, the twelfth anniversary of Ethan’s death, recounts my extended on the job training for better adulthood. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: Ethan’s friends called him The Fun Master. Sometimes he had a great play idea; other times he made everyone laugh; still others he added his positive energy and enthusiasm to whatever people were already doing. His instinct was to try to make each moment a positive experience. And he usually succeeded; people always felt better after spending time with him. In an ever more tense and troubled world, we need more fun masters. 

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Fun Master deals honestly with suffering and loss. It is at times touching and even sad, and yet it is also wryly funny and entertaining. Using irony and self-deprecating humor to portray my parenting struggles lends the work a playful tone and makes evident that humility powered my journey of self-transformation. 

The Fun Master will interest readers of parenting memoirs and people affected by the many conditions treated in the book, such as Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), pediatric heart conditions, swallowing and breathing problems associated with Tracheoesophageal Fistula and Esophageal Atresia (TEF-EA), ADHD, anxiety, and hearing loss. It will also be of special interest to women who value empathy in men and men interested in changing understandings of masculinity.


“About coping, self-sacrifice, and loss, The Fun Master is a moving memoir by a father who was transformed by his love for his child” Foreword Clarion Reviews

“In this poignant memoir, Seitzer takes us inside the grueling day-to-day of parents turned inside out by the arrival of a child with intense medical needs, while reminding us that even in the most challenging times the joy and humor that children bring always shines through. And the love. The big, life-changing love.” —Nicola Kraus, co-author of The Nanny Diaries

“‘The Fun Master’ brings us face to face with the daily life of parenting a special needs child. Through inspirational writing, you will be taken to the most creative places in your mind and soul following this dad’s transformation through the complex role of fathering. An extraordinary, heartfelt story of loving and letting go.” —Anna Penenberg, author of Dancing in the Narrows

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jeff Seitzer was an expert on the care of the self, himself in particular, before he unexpectedly became a stay-at-home dad. Accounts of his on-the-job training as a full-time parent have appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, Hippocampus, Brevity, Adoptive Families Magazine, and elsewhere. An award-winning teacher, he is also the author of a number of books and articles on law and philosophy and a regular contributor to the CMTA Report. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, he now lives with his family in Chicago, where he teaches at Roosevelt University. To learn more about Jeff’s life and work, visit:

 The Fun Master is an ode to the wisdom of children, particularly those with special needs, whose persistent joyfulness under the most trying circumstances taught me how to live anxiety-free. The narrative touches on major issues like parenting roles, gender relations, and attitudes toward disability. However, I do not comment on these and other issues from my current vantage point, nor do I draw from recent research to explore them. Rather, the narrative recounts vividly my immediate reactions to events as they unfolded. The aim is to keep the reader’s attention focused on the positive impact kids had on my development as an adult with special needs. 

SAMPLE: Please refer to the Amazon page: The Fun Master: A Memoir: Seitzer, Jeff: 9781684631490: Books

LOCAL OUTLETS The Fun Master: A Memoir a book by Jeff Seitzer

Amazon: The Fun Master: A Memoir: Seitzer, Jeff: 9781684631490: Books
Barnes & Noble: The Fun Master: A Memoir by Jeff Seitzer, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Target: The Fun Master – By Jeff Seitzer (paperback) : Target

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Please feel free to email me at I am also on Facebook (@cornhuskerinexile) and Twitter (@urbancornhusker). More information about me and my work, including excerpts from the memoir, are all available on my website,, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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