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Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  6,740 Ratings  ·  1,052 Reviews
A Best Book Of The Year

Time • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Kansas City Star San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Seattle Times

A shy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of a fabulist, an entire life in parts and pieces, Manhood for Amateurs is the first sustained work of personal writing from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. In these insightful, provocat
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by Harper (first published September 21st 2009)
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I've lost some respect for Chabon for dedicating an entire essay to why he started carrying a man-purse, or murse as he calls it. However, I still really enjoyed this book of his musings on how he became the 'man' he is today and how it influences his behavior as a father, husband, son and brother.

The essays are deceptively simple at first glance, but Chabon uses these stories as jumping off points for bigger ideas. His grumpy-old-man-style complaints about how complicated Legos have gotten turn
This collection of essays links the author’s boyhood and adult life as a father of four under a loose theme of the meaning of manhood and the good and bad changes over time. I love a lot of Chabon’s novels, so it was easy to succumb to curiosity about his personal life. That such knowledge of accomplished individuals might provide a window into the magic of their creativity was dashed, as usual. But it was comforting to learn about both his decency and ordinary fallibility and experience some of ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
I remembered I had this on my shelf and I had previously read some of the essays in it. But promising a look into being a man and a father, I thought it was time to read the whole shebang. Because I am becoming a father. The man part may be debatable.

I say that in jest because Michael addresses this in some essays - the meaning of manhood. And he brings it back from being a 1950s stereotype. And he's not preachy. He also tackles a lot of other issues in here. It's more some snapshots from his li
Michael Chabon is best when he soars into fantastical worlds. In his book of personal essays, Manhood for Amateurs, he rarely breaks away from melancholy musings about fatherhood and its responsibilities. But when he does slip into this other world, his essays approach awesome.

Those worlds Chabon thrives in can be the comic book history that won him his Pulitzer (The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay). He was wonderful in the weird book The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, where he imagines a Je
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
Dec 20, 2016 SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: men
Fantastic writing. Smooth, poetic, sensitive, thoughtful. Very accomplished. And it almost, but not quite, completely failed to interest me.

I think I was almost totally bored despite recognizing the artistry of the writing because I'm just not the target audience. Not a dude, I guess.

A collection of essays part memoir, part op-ed, all about being a man. Being a son, son-in-law, a father, married, divorced, a parent, a husband. Like the male counterpoint to Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman, on
Aug 01, 2011 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-about-boys
You know, this certainly wasn't Chabon's BEST book but it was incredibly charming and I am pretty sure that every young dad should read it. Chabon candidly admits to many shortcomings and limitations that I think most straight men (fathers or not) share and would find comfort in relating to; as a woman, not only do I find these admissions to be endearing, but it was refreshing to confirm that all the idiotic things that I have always suspected men of thinking are indeed being thought. Politicall ...more
Nov 11, 2009 J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this book was written by the same person who gave us The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay...

I know this book is non-fiction and the other is fiction - but it's exceedingly hard to wrap my brain around the fact that Michael Chabon couldn't bring his incredible story-telling skills to this work of non-fiction.

With the exception of two stories, I found the entire rest of the book to be dry and humourless. There were so many places where I found myself skipping ahead to the n
A bit uneven, but in the end, Chabon's writing craft is above reproach. Also, he admits that his wife takes chances that he might not otherwise take. Such a mensch.

And did I mention that he is dreamy?

I have a SERIOUS literary crush on both Michael Chabon AND his wife Ayelet Waldman. Sigh.
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 01, 2017 Mattia Ravasi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Video review:

So many brilliant reflections on the most different of topics, from LEGO to baseball, from growing up to children's movies. All of these takes are anchored to a specific episode in Chabon's life, so that you always feel like you're getting a story, even in the middle of the most abstract discussion.

Since it's about so much different stuff, I'd mainly suggest it to Chabon's fans, but hey, that doesn't make it any less gold.
May 17, 2013 Snotchocheez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Okay, this is kinda a propos of nothing, but bear with me...

Thursdays are Library Days for me and my daughter (now 5 years old). I sometimes feel a little...I dunno...guilty (?) for imposing my values and likes upon her, but each Thursday she'll run to the children's section, and if they haven't already been checked out, will scour the picture-book section and pull out as many of her favorite books as she can find. Invariably, three of them (which I highly encouraged her to like, and tr
Oct 21, 2009 jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, essays
michael chabon composes dazzling prose. his love for the art of storytelling is evident in everything he writes. his writing is smart, insightful, candid, funny, sympathetic, and mischievous. this gifted combination makes for one of the rare writers from whom a reader always knows to expect something altogether enjoyable. some of chabon's works are indeed gems, but all of them are great books.

manhood for amateurs: the pleasures and regrets of a husband, father, and son, is precisely what the sub
Oct 11, 2009 Lillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and touching collection of essays on what it means to be a husband, father, brother and son with a little bit of what it means to be wife and mother of his four children. The stories are sometimes told within the construct of his Jewish heritage and sometimes not but always seem universal. They are short and sweet and several touch on some of his favorite things like baseball and comic book characters. Each one is told in Chabon's usual erudite style. Eloquently written. Remember, he ...more
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Sep 20, 2013 Darlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon is a memoir written in the form of a collection of essays. Mr. Chabon writes about everything from memories of his childhood to his frustration with Legos sold today that don't encourage creativity in children;from his lifelong enjoyment of Marvel comics to his experiences as a husband and father of four. I have read many memoirs and have taken something away from each and every one of them; what impressed me most about Michael Chabon's memoir is ...more
Anyone who knows me and my literary tastes pretty well (which, really, is just about anyone who takes the time to listen to my literary babble) knows that audio books and I really don't... connect. But I needed an audio book now, and I adore Michael Chabon, and when I realized he put out another book without letting me know, I went for the audio book version as it became available through interlibrary loan sooner than the actual book.

I love Michael Chabon. Have I mentioned that recently?

What was
Here's the thing. About 95% of these essays came out of Details Magazine. Instead of spending $25.99 on a Michael Chabon book I could just become a complete goober. Then I'd probably read Details magazine because Esquire is for snobs and GQ is kinda gay. The only plus side is knowing that people who need Details Magazine (sample article:"Old Girls Gone Wild-Behind the scenes at the first national Cougar Convention.") are accidentally getting exposed to Michael Chabon, who is much better for them ...more
Aug 28, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, memoirs
This is a delightful book of short essays on a diverse set of topics. The collection of essays serves as Chabon's memoirs--not chronological, not comprehensive, but fun and funny. Each essay begins in a simple manner, but then starts to delve into heavier matters--all while maintaining a light-hearted style.

The book uses the word "amateur" from its title Manhood for Amateurs in two different ways. Chabon easily admits that he is an amateur in the sense that he is not an expert. He freely acknowl
Oct 26, 2012 Oliver rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The four-page opening essay, The Loser's Club, reminds me why I've so often felt affection for this writer. It's remarkably tender and revealing portrayal of him as a boy.

About having the daring to try something almost certain to fail, he says,

"...this chutzpah--as in all those accounts of magical chutzpah so beloved by solitary boys like me--was rewarded."


"Every work of art act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing."

Alas, nothing else lived up to that four-page g
So, delving into the personal for a moment; yesterday when I started this book I was having a particularly difficult parental day. My youngest (who is never the easiest child to motivate to dress or brush teeth or shoe and head off to school) was particularly difficult. I finally got the kids in the car only 6 minutes late and dropped at school only a minute late (lots of time can be made up if one is willing to drive 10-15 miles over the speed limit) and then came home and bawled to my husband ...more
Dec 27, 2009 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked most of this collection -- a series of reflections on fatherhood/sonhood/manhood in twentieth and twenty-first century America. Even though I'm not a parent, I identified with Michael Chabon's grumpy observations about the shameless commodification of childhood, the authoritarian nature of modern Legos, and, most especially, the way that kids are no longer allowed to roam freely in their neighborhoods, which (Chabon says) represents the "curtailing of adventure" and the "closing o ...more
David Minor
Nov 15, 2011 David Minor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Manhood for Amateurs” is essentially Michael Chabon’s memoirs. However, it is not told a straightforward autobiographical piece where he tries to describe his entire life story in a chronological order. Instead the book is a series of essays on extremely wide ranging topics. These topics range from what he learned in the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine to his disappointment with the state of Lego toys today. What is common is that most of these topics are merely a jumping of ...more
Deirdre Keating
Jan 04, 2010 Deirdre Keating rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essaycollections
Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, are my version of Jon & Kate. I can't not read this.

ETA: Hmmm, that comment above seems so snarky now. I didn't mean to imply their marriage is as tenuous or their parenting as questionable, only that I am as fascinated by them individually and as a pair as so many once were by that reality TV couple.

I changed my mind about this collection of essays several times, but bottom line, no one writes quite as well as Chabon and it's a pleasure to read his writ
Mike Lindgren
Thoughtful, perceptive and maybe just a little dull. A "liberal agnostic empiricist" who is "proud to be a semi-observant, bacon-eating Jew," Chabon offers accounts of grappling with the complexities of modern manhood -- from the dreaded "drug talk" with one's children to the double standards inherent in male parenting -- all propelled by the shimmering prose that won him the Pulitzer Prize. Chabon is not the first writer to find humor in feckless attempts at home improvement, but he is probably ...more
Aug 20, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
chabon is a great writer. i could just end a review here. part of my attraction to his writing is perhaps the fact that he's so damned nostalgic. kind of a golden days of the past, while still somehow conveying a nostalgia for the current day. my dad is the same way. he is a great storyteller, mostly because what he tells is so damned genuine.

this is a collection of essays culled from various periodicals. there is a clear thematic line -- manliness, i suppose, but i actually think its maybe "vu
Well, as someone who is not a man, and therefore not a husband, father, or son, there were definitely times in this book when I didn't really relate. So it was that throughout the book I found myself liking some chapters and not particularly caring for others. It was a fairly quick read, with a set structure and an easy colloquial tone, but sometimes it got a bit self-indulgent when it came to tangents, vocabulary, and philosophizing on a mass scale. Yet I think that that dichotomous tone works ...more
William Thomas
Jan 18, 2010 William Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Far and away the best, most entertaining book he has published since the mysteries of pittsburgh. commentary on his own life, his children's lives, the men throughout his life in a caring, kind and concerned way. critical of the world around him and attempting egalitarian virtue with his feminist sympathies, but also admitting of his own faults, flaws and unwitting conspiracy with the world of men and boys on the whole.
Jeff Matlow
Jun 10, 2014 Jeff Matlow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I mean, wow. One of the best books I've read in a long while. It's not for everyone, but as a man in his mid-40s who grew up on the east coast and currently has young kids (not to mention having lived a life of a bacon-eating quasi-Jew), I am smack dab in the bullseye of the target market.
I am actually going to go back and read a bunch of chapters again.
An amazing memoir that really looks at his life and the meaning of it all. As a man, a father, a Jew, a son, a husband and a human.

Benjamin Siegel
Another one of his I have to finish by flipping through the last third at a machine-gun clip. An endearing essay on talking with his children about the Beatles and smoking pot, but we could have nipped this book in the bud by agreeing to to a rousing slow clap about what a gold star male feminist / earnest cool dad Michael Chabon is. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVE?
Carey Combe
Apr 20, 2010 Carey Combe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have really loved his novels, but all the humour seems to be missing from this memoir and his philosophical ruminations on life are very shallow.
Nov 14, 2014 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
overall as prettily written as most of Chabon's stuff but i could do without the chapter on Doctor Who. You can't fool me Chabon, that show is dogshit
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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad ...more
More about Michael Chabon...

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“[My dad] didn't do much apart from the traditional winning of bread. He didn't take me to get my hair cut or my teeth cleaned; he didn't make the appointments. He didn't shop for my clothes. He didn't make my breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My mom did all of those things, and nobody ever told her when she did them that it made her a good mother.” 46 likes
“Sooner or later, you will discover which kind of father you are, and at that moment you will, with perfect horror, recognize the type. You are the kind of father who fakes it, who yells, who measures his children with greatest accuracy only against one another, who evades the uncomfortable and glosses over the painful and pads the historic records of his sorrows and accomplishments alike. You are the kind who teases and deceives and toys with his children and subjects them to displays of rich and manifold sarcasm when--as is always the case--sarcasm is the last thing they need. You are the kind of father who pretends knowledge he doesn't possess, and imposes information with implacable gratuitousness, and teaches lessons at the moment when none can be absorbed, and is right, and has always been right, and always will be right until the end of time, and never more than immediately after he has been wrong. And when your daughter's body begins to betray her, and her sky flickers in the distance with the heat lightning of sex, you clear your throat and stroke your chin whiskers and tell her to go ask her mother. You can't help it--you're a walking cliché.” 27 likes
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