Breaking Dad
PublisherMirror Books
Date Published25 April 2019
Price£ 16.99

Breaking Dad

by James Lubbock (with Warren FitzGerald)

James Lubbock tells the story of his life, of parents whose sexual orientation led them to part, and of his father the drug dealer.


The subject of this autobiography has no claim to fame other than the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of his father for drug dealing. This crucial event, however, comes late in the book; the earlier part follows James’ life from his late teens to his mid-30s.

His early life is barely mentioned, but clearly was that of what one assumes was a fairly typical Jewish lad from an unexceptional family, his father Richard making a surprisingly good living from dealing in coins. His parents’ regular arguments were not anything he got greatly exercised about; it is apparent that both parents loved their son, and he remained in close contact with both throughout what followed.

It did, however, come as a great surprise to James, aged 19, when Richard confessed that he was gay, especially when this was shortly followed by his mother Marilyn making a similar pronouncement, and furthermore that the two would be separating and that she would henceforth be living with her girlfriend Ruth.

James seems to have accepted this with no significant problem, certainly his mother’s later discovery that she had an advanced cancer was of much greater concern. Despite their separation, James’ father was also devastated by this news and there is some suggestion that his chaotic life from this point is at least partially the result.

At any event, Richard appears not to have been a very well-organised person, habitually late for every appointment, and his home/office quickly becomes a centre for homosexual excess and the retailing of drugs, particularly crystal meth, to which Richard himself became addicted. The minimal security precautions made it inevitable that police would get wind of his activities sooner or later, and Richard was arrested asleep in a chair, half-naked, surrounded by great quantities of cash and a wide variety of narcotics.

However captivating the challenges faced by his parents, the emphasis throughout the book is unfortunately on James himself, who has apparently nothing of interest about him. Even in his late 30s he retains all the geeky under-confidence of a spotty teenager and attempts to dramatise his plight by exaggerating every fear and concern fails to make him lovable.

Occasional asides suggest he is neither completely stupid nor entirely ill-informed, he holds a responsible position in advertising, and manages to convince girlfriends that he is a viable proposition. But the latter is a wonder considering his study of cheesy pick-up lines, and his depth of analysis about what is happening is skin-deep.

He remains entirely self-absorbed throughout, so even when he is (he says) convinced that his father is in desperate need, he is unable to resist taking the meth for his own use or do anything practical to help. This is as dull as any celebrity biog – only without the celeb.

Reviewed 30 November 2019 by Chris Roberts