Go the Fuck to Sleep
|Genre||Children's literature, adult comedy|
|June 14, 2011|
|Followed by||Seriously, Just Go to Sleep
You Have to Fucking Eat (2014)
Go the Fuck to Sleep is a book written by American author Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. Described as a "children's book for adults", it reached No. 1 on Amazon.com's bestseller list a month before its release, thanks to an unintended viral marketing campaign during which booksellers forwarded PDF copies of the book by e-mail.
When Adam Mansbach's daughter Vivien was two, she would take up to two hours to fall asleep. Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, "Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep". Following his post, friends of Mansbach responded enthusiastically, so that Mansbach began writing what was then only a hypothetical book. Mansbach had the illustrations for the picture book done by a friend, illustrator Ricardo Cortés (a contributor to The New York Times), and approached Akashic Books, a book publisher from New York.
Go the Fuck to Sleep was subject to an unintended viral marketing campaign after PDF copies of the book, presumably from advance copies sent to booksellers, were distributed via email. While the book was originally scheduled for release in October 2011, by the end of April the book had hit No. 2 on Amazon.com's bestseller list, and by May 12 the book was No. 1. In the meantime, the publishing date was moved up to June, and the publisher increased its first printing to 150,000 copies. Akashic, which acknowledged the importance of social media in popularizing the book ("it's a miracle from the heavens for us"), is trying to prevent piracy of the book. The book's title on the cover had the letters "uc" in the word "fuck" obscured by a full moon, while the book's text includes the full word. The rights for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth were acquired by Canongate. The film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000.
The audiobook company Audible.com has published an audiobook version of Go the Fuck to Sleep, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The CD has a total running time of just over 7 minutes, which includes an unabridged reading of the book by Jackson, a brief introductory monologue by Jackson explaining why he decided to record the book, and approximately 2 minutes' worth of introductory and legal matter (spoken copyright notice, etc.). The actual reading of the manuscript by Jackson runs only approximately 4 1/2 minutes.
Go the Fuck to Sleep is written as a "children's book for adults". While it has the writing style of classic children's bedtime stories, it also includes the parent's language as commentary on the tricks used by Mansbach's daughter to avoid having to go to bed. The narrator advises the child that other animals have gone to sleep already including cats and lambs, and asks the child to "Please go the fuck to sleep".
Positive initial response to the Facebook posts was matched by positive criticism from reviewers. Macy Halford, writing for The New Yorker, said "the book is super funny, and the art, by Ricardo Cortés, is perversely sweet, so sweet and genuine that it made me cringe." Some of the reviewers chimed in from experience, as did Sarah Western Balzer, writing for Here Is the City. After citing a stanza in which the parent comments on the child's supposed thirst ("I know you’re not thirsty. That’s bullshit. Stop lying. / Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep."), she says: "It goes on a bit too long, and by the end, he's kind of in a rage. But then, putting a two- or three-year-old to bed can be totally fucking enraging at times."
The senior vice president and director of Macmillan Children's Publishing announced that she feels the book is a parody of Macmillan's book It's Time to Sleep, My Love by author Eric Metaxas and illustrator Nancy Tillman, saying "Except for the profanity laced throughout, the book has the same kind of lilting lullaby as Eric's, and the art style is the same as Nancy's."  Metaxas has complained that the book damages the innocence of children's lullabies. Mansbach responded that he was not familiar with the Macmillan book and that his work satirized children's bedtime books in general rather than any particular book.
According to Mansbach, the frustrations he wrote about "are not permissible to talk about. We're not completely honest because we don't want to be bad parents." Macy Halford said this frustration elicits a response peculiar to modern parents:
Whatever the cause, it is definitely the case that, when faced with a kid who refuses to go to sleep, we get annoyed, like all parents before us, but, rather than just abandoning the child to the dark and telling it that it can go to sleep or stay awake as it likes but it is staying in the bed until morning (remember Proust at the opening of Swann’s Way?), we sit there with it, reading to it and singing to it and distracting it with swirling night lights until it decides it feels like going to sleep, all the while thinking to ourselves, Go the fuck to sleep, kid.
According to Mark Rotella, an editor at Publishers Weekly (and father of two), this is one of the books "that are less earnest about raising your child. They help parents step back and laugh at themselves a bit ... It's more like a parenting book for when the parent is inconsolable in the middle of night and frustrated." The publisher for the UK and the Commonwealth, Canongate, likewise pointed to the book as a parents' book: "This book perfectly captures the familiar and unspoken tribulations of putting your child down for the night. In the process, it opens up a conversation about parenting, charming and enraging as it can be, and chimes a note of solidarity with tired parents everywhere."
In July 2011, MensHealth.com published a retort to the book: a parody poem written from the child's perspective titled "Get the Fuck Out of My Room" and containing parenting advice.
As well as the audio book read by Samuel L. Jackson, the book attracted several celebrity readings including by German film director Werner Herzog at the official launch of the book at the New York Public Library. Kevin Pollak, doing a vocal impression of Christopher Walken, read some of the story on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show by viewer request.
As part of a rapidly growing internet meme, the publisher of the book in Australia, Text Publishing, posted a video of Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst reading the book to camera in the style she formerly used on the children's television program Play School. She immediately offered to record a reading of the book after being sent a copy by the publisher.
As a follow-up, Mansbach wrote a family-friendly version of the book called Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. Whereas the original was a parody of a children's book written expressly for the adult age group, Seriously, Just Go To Sleep is a real children's book for a parent to read to his or her child, and the word "fuck" has been replaced by the parent in the story expressing frustration with the stubborn child in a more G-rated way. For example, the stanza about the child's thirst was changed from "I know you're not thirsty, that's bullshit. Stop lying. Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep" to "I know you're not thirsty. You just had a drink. Stop goofing around now, and sleep."
The book has been translated into many other languages, and in February 2014, it was announced on Facebook and in other sources the book would receive a translation into Jamaican patois, entitled Go de Rass to Sleep. It is set to be released in early June 2014.
- It's Just a Plant, a book written and illustrated by Cortés
- I Don't Want To Blow You Up!, by Cortés as well
- Harmanci, Reyhan (April 28, 2011). "A Whim, A Book, And, Wow!". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Neill, Graeme (May 13, 2011). "Spoof kids' book to Canongate". The Bookseller. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Hetter, Katia (May 13, 2011). "Bedtime story: Go the bleep to sleep". CNN. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Harmanci, Reyhan (May 12, 2011). "'Go the F--- to Sleep': The Case of the Viral PDF". The Bay Citizen. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Netburn, Deborah (June 15, 2011). "Samuel L. Jackson reads 'Go the F --- to Sleep'". Los Angeles Times (latimesblogs.latimes.com). Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- Balzer, Sarah Western (May 12, 2011). "Go The F*ck To Sleep (Review)". Here is the City. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Halford, Macy (May 5, 2011). "The Mystery of Go the F to Sleep Solved". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Lodge, Sally (June 8, 2011). "To Feiwel and Friends, Instant Bestseller Is a Bit of Deja Vu". Publishers Weekly (PublishersWeekly.com). Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- Metaxas, Eric (June 13, 2011). Hugh Hewitt Show. Interview with Hugh Hewitt.
- Eric Adams, Steve Belanger, Adam Campbell, and Bill Phillips (July 2011). "Get the F**k out of my room!". Men's Health (MensHealth.com). Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Richmond, Tom (December 12, 2011). "On the Stands: MAD #513". Tom's MAD Blog! (tomrichmond.com). Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- "MAD Magazine 20 Dumbest Things of 2011: Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers in "Stay the F**k Awake"". The Huffington Post (Huffingtonpost.com). December 5, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- Associated Press (March 23, 2011). "NTSB Investigating Sleeping Air Traffic Controller At Reagan National". The Huffington Post (Huffingtonpost.com). Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- Blistein, Jon. "Samuel L. Jackson Delivers Colorful Get-Out-the-Vote Message". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- Martin, Adam (June 15, 2011). "Werner Herzog Reads 'Go the F*ck to Sleep'". The Atlantic Wire.
- Pollak, Kevin (June 22, 2011). "Kevin Pollak reading a piece of "Go the F*** To Sleep" as Christopher Walken". Kevin Pollak's Chat Show (YouTube (Official channel)). Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- Quinn, Karl (July 13, 2011). "Noni Hazlehurst reads expletive-ridden 'children's' book". Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Go the F**k to Sleep". Text Publishing (Australia). July 13, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- OCLC (2011). "Duérmete, carajo! (Audiobook on CD, 2011)". Worldcat. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- Mansbach, Adam (2012). Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1617750786.
- Hey mon: ‘Go the F— to Sleep’ gets a Jamaican patois translation -Washington Post
- Go de Rass to Sleep official page on Akashic Books
- Flood, Alison (26 September 2014). "Author who put bad language into bedtime writes sweary sequel". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- Pescovitz, David (24 September 2014). "You Have To Fucking Eat (from the author of Go The Fuck To Sleep)". Boing Boing. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
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