Though the book is explicitly about his children, he also writes about his DUI arrest a few years ago, and the shame he describes that's deeply grounded in his identity as a father.
"When I got arrested three years ago, I was like, 'I gotta write about this,' and I kept waiting and waiting and waiting, and part of it was I wanted to make sure if I wrote something I wouldn't get fired. I said to both my bosses [at GQ and Deadspin], 'I think I'm going to write about getting arrested. You won't fire me if I write about getting arrested?' And they were like, 'No, we've had writers do far worse,'" says Magary, "So I had had that in my head for a long time and I was happy to get it out of my system."
He also includes a chapter about an especially excruciating tantrum thrown by his daughter. If his son's complications serve as the melancholy blanket wrapped around "Someone Could Get Hurt," this episode may be its emotional core (and structurally sits at near the book's center). His daughter's fit inspires the familiar Magary rage, manifested here unlike in any other part in his book (though, rest assured, there are plenty of rants, obscenities and CAPITAL LETTERS throughout). He writes:
"The girl was still screaming and driving me to the precipice of madness, and I searched around in my mind for some kind of creative solution. I definitely wanted to punish her. I couldn't even recall what we were fighting about, which happens a lot when you fight with a child. The fight becomes its own reason for being. I wanted to prove my dominance over the household, to regain control. I wanted to WIN, which is foolish because there's no prize for defeating a f---ing five-year-old at something."
The chapter climaxes with a manifesto, which might as well be the battle cry for those experiencing "21st Century Parenthood," as promised by the book's subtitle. Parenting is an annoying, frustrating and enraging business. But "Someone Could Get Hurt" makes it clear that the annoyance, frustration and rage is all born out of love.
Throughout the book, he avoids using his children's names. He often refers to them as "the boy" or "the girl," as if they're just small strangers he has come across on the street.
"If I put the names in, then their my kids instead of yours – you, the reader," says Magary. "I just think it's more universal that there's a son and there's a daughter, I can plug my son into that."
He adds that omitting their names is also for his children's sake.
"I'd rather my kids control of their own name. When they're 18 they'll put their own names online and they'll make asses of themselves, and that's fine because they would have done it themselves," he says. "I'm someone who writes publicly, so I'm trying to have it both ways and I know that won't last forever. But I'm not going to help the process."
One does wonder what his children (now in the throes of a "Harry Potter" obsession) will think once they discover his writing: the crazy, rant-filled, crude screeds he is known for (he has also written a number of relatively more dignified but bombastic pieces, including profiles of Justin Bieber and Snoop Lion). But also the very personal and often embarrassing anecdotes from his children's very young lives – the fits, the fiascoes, the pooping, the vomiting – that make "Someone Could Get Hurt."
"I think it's OK. I'm close enough with my kids and have a good enough relationship with them, and I do enough as a father where I think they're going to be OK with it," says Magary. "It's not like you read the book and you finish like, 'Wow, this guy f---ing hates his family, just hates his them, just wishes they were dead.' Usually the love comes through. But I'm sure my son will be like, 'Hey, what do you got me pulling my d--k for?'"