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Buzz Bissinger reflects on raising his sons in new memoir, 'Father’s Day'

Buzz Bissinger's
Buzz Bissinger's "Father's Day: A Journey Into the Mind & Heart of My Extraordinary Son."
Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of four books — including the New York Times best-seller "Friday Night Lights," which has gone on to become a film and critically acclaimed television show — but his most difficult accomplishment might be raising his twin sons.

Bissinger's sons were born three-and-a-half months premature in 1983. Gerry weighed one pound and 14 ounces, Zach weighed one pound and 11 ounces. They were the youngest male twins ever to survive at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia at that time.

The older twin, Gerry, is a graduate student from the University of Penn, and is preparing to become a teacher. But younger brother Zach is a mentally disabled savant — he's spent his life attending special schools and self-contained classrooms. As Bissinger says, "he'll never drive a car, or kiss a girl, or live by himself. [He's] challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty which can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise."

"Father's Day" follows Buzz and Zach on a road trip as they revisit all the places they've lived together in Zach's 24 years, but also revisit a father-son relationship that Buzz never felt was as strong as he should have had with his son Zach.

Excerpt of 'Father's Day'

Excerpted from “Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son” by Buzz Bissinger. Copyright © 2012 by H.G. Bissinger. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Buzz Bissinger will be visiting Vroman’s in Pasadena, tonight (May 29) at 7:00 p.m.


Buzz Bissinger journalist and author, best known for his nonfiction book “Friday Night Lights”; his newest book is “Father’s Day”