A tender memoir of fathers and sons, love and loss, and learning to fill boots a size too big.
Dan Robson's father was a builder, a fixer. A man whose high-school education was enough not only to provide for his family, but to build a successful business. Rick Robson held things up. When he dies, nothing in his son's world feels steady anymore. In a very real sense, the home his father had built suddenly seemed fragile. Without its natural caretaker, the house would fall to pieces. And his family shows all the same signs of crumbling.
Dan is hit especially hard. He knows he is not the man his father was. Dan never learned the blue-collar skills he admired, because his father wanted him to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Now that his father is gone, the acknowledgment of his sacrifices, and the sheer longing to be close to him again in some way draw him to the tools that lie unused in the garage. So begins Dan's year of learning the skills his father's hands had long mastered, and trying to fill the steel-toe boots left behind. Measuring Up is the story of that journey.
Robson picks up where his father left off, working on the house and the truck, as much for the family as for himself. In much the same way that Michael Pollan comes to know his house inside-out in A Place of My Own, Robson learns the mysteries and proud satisfaction of plumbing, carpentry, wiring, and drywalling, and comes to understand how our homes are built. He also comes to see how his home was built by his father, uncovering more than one heartbreaking reminder of the kind of man his father was, and what he meant to his family.
Tender and unflinching, Measuring Up is a story of love, mourning, and learning what it means to be a man.
DAN ROBSON is head of features and senior writer at The Athletic. His stories have taken him to places like the Canadian Arctic, the slums of Haiti, and on many adventures in between. He has won gold at the National Magazine Awards for longform sports writing, and has been a finalist eight times. He is the author of the national bestseller Quinn: The Life of a Hockey Legend, which was longlisted for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction. He is also the co-author of The Crazy Game (with Clint Malarchuk), Change Up (with Buck Martinez), and Killer (with Doug Gilmour), all of which were bestsellers.