Kemper's Reviews > Manhood for Amateurs

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
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Oct 13, 09

bookshelves: essays, non-fiction, signed-by-author
Read in October, 2009

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 turns into a great exploration of his kids' imaginations. Trying to draw a decent version of the Invisible Woman with his kids leads to a short history of how females have been mistreated in comic books and then his feelings about how badly he's failed to create complete female characters in his own writing. A story about briefly meeting David Foster Wallace turns into his thoughts and fears about his wife's struggle with depression.

While some of the stuff is a little darker and melancholy like a section on the ways he thinks he's failing his kids or an essay about how he gained and lost a father figure in his father-in-law with his first failed marriage, it's still an upbeat book with a lot of funny and interesting ideas of what it means to be a man in modern America.

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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent Chabon carries a man purse? That's disappointing. Is that why you only gave this four stars?


Kemper Yep. It would have been 5 if he hadn't admitted that. Worse, he knows the sin and completely admits it, and actively sought an actual purse after discarding backpacks, messenger bags, etc. for various reasons.

I'm going to see him next week at a reading/signing he's giving here, and if he's wearing one, I may have to boo him while he's on stage.


message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent You could steal his man purse and proudly display it on your bookcase as a trophy.


Kemper If you see this headline next week:

"Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Michael Chabon Has Man-Purse Snatched."

You'll know what happened. If I get get pinched for it, try to explain our side to the public.


message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent I'll try but the Man-Purse enthusiasts probably already have us marked as trouble makers that need to be taken down.



Kemper You're right. Nancy will probably rat me out and Chabon will have man-purse security at the event.


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent Maybe Chabon's part of an elaborate setup.




Kemper It's a man-purse sting!


message 9: by Nancy (last edited Oct 17, 2012 07:48PM) (new) - added it

Nancy You guys don't know what you're missing! I'm trying to convince Dan to buy a Crumpler for that new camera he just got. It has nice padded compartments for camera and lens and covered mesh pockets to hold filters. I was thinking a fashionable, yet discreet, Gunmetal Gray with red lining would go well with the Hard Case Crime shirt. Wouldn't you rather keep your photography equipment safe and secure in a Crumpler rather than let it flop around in a backpack?


message 10: by Kemper (last edited Oct 13, 2009 09:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper A broken camera is a small price to pay to avoid a guy code man-purse violation....


message 11: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy Sock violations are far worse.





 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) LOL, Nancy. I have an issue with men in sandals, period. I think men wearing sandals went out with the BC era, IMHO.


Kemper The Chabon signing was last night and one of the essays he read was the one about the man-purse. It was very funny and he got a lot of questions and comments about it so we aren't the only ones that this issue has come up for.

He was asked where his purse was, and he said that he left it home since he was carrying a backpack for traveling, and he showed it off. He had it by him while he was signing my copy, and I could have easily grabbed it and took off, but he was extremely nice so I didn't have the heart to swipe it.


message 14: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent You can take satisfaction in knowing that you could have swiped it.


message 15: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy What color socks was he wearing? Did they match his pants or his shoes?


message 16: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent He wasn't wearing socks and sandals, was he?



message 17: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy If he was wearing socks and sandals, I'd have swiped his backpack and not felt any remorse.


Kemper I would have felt very good about my chances of outrunning anyone in sandals. But, he was very well dressed with some extremely pointy shoes that probably would have hurt a lot if he ever got a good kick in so that was another reason to forget the whole plan.


message 19: by Nancy (last edited Oct 21, 2009 06:18PM) (new) - added it

Nancy As pointy as this?




Kemper Yep, about like that. They scared me a little because his feet were at eye level on stage so it was like they were coming at my eyes when he moved....


Tanner i saw him read this murse story at powell's in portland and i thought it was hilarious. the whole point of the story is the fact that he does not give a shit what he looks like, comfort and convenience are the only concern. when taken into context with the overall attitude of the collection as a whole, i thought the story was perfect. i, however, still carry a backpack instead of a murse.


message 22: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent One upside of the rise of eReaders is that it will probably play a part in the decline of the man-purse.


message 23: by Nancy (last edited Jan 03, 2011 12:44PM) (new) - added it

Nancy As technology continues to evolve, so too must the man-purse.

A perfect example is this handmade Kindle bag:
"description

For the guys, I would recommend camouflage or colorful fighter planes.


Kemper Why has this comment thread come back from the dead like a man-purse carrying zombie???

Yet another reason not to buy a Kindle....


message 25: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Cullen I'm ok with you having refrained from stealing his bag. It's a close call, but I'll support you.


message 26: by Tionne (new)

Tionne It's called a satchel!! Indiana Jones wears them! Lol


Kemper Tionne wrote: "It's called a satchel!! Indiana Jones wears them! Lol"

If you're going through jungles and deserts and your bag contains beef jerky, a clean pair of underwear, extra ammo and oil for your bullwhip, then it's a satchel. If you're in a city and your bag contains your cell phone, keys, wallet and spare change, then it's a man-purse.


message 28: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Kemper wrote: "If you're going through jungles and deserts and your bag contains beef jerky, a clean pair of underwear, extra ammo and oil for your bullwhip, then it's a satchel. If you're in a city and your bag contains your cell phone, keys, wallet and spare change, then it's a man-purse."

And that is the first essay for your own book called Manhood for Amateurs.


message 29: by Leo (new)

Leo The "murse" thing just made my day (actually night). And now that I think about it, I think I own a murse. Well...

By the way, reading the comments in this reviews almost had me laughing out loud and it's freackin' 5 A.M. Damn you people.


Kemper martinyfelix wrote: "The "murse" thing just made my day (actually night). And now that I think about it, I think I own a murse. Well...

By the way, reading the comments in this reviews almost had me laughing out loud ..."


I think European guy code allows for it. But not here in 'Murica!

Damn, this is one of my really old ones. But I remember how we planned it out back in 2009 about how one day we would be making someone laugh at 5 AM in 2014..... What? It's easy to predict that man-purse humor will only get better with age.

Seriously, glad you liked it.


message 31: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent This is the thread that keeps on giving. Our hilarity is pretty amazing.


Kemper Dan wrote: "This is the thread that keeps on giving. Our hilarity is pretty amazing."

Like fine wine, our wit improves with age.


message 33: by Leo (new)

Leo Kemper wrote: "martinyfelix wrote: "The "murse" thing just made my day (actually night). And now that I think about it, I think I own a murse. Well...

By the way, reading the comments in this reviews almost had ..."


Well, yep, everyone knows we Europeans are weird. We probably even invented the murse xD

Now let's wait for someone in 2017 to discover this thread and consequently the murse.


Kemper martinyfelix wrote: "Well, yep, everyone knows we Europeans are weird. We probably even invented the murse xD.

I think the first time I heard of the man-purse concept was on an old episode of Seinfeld where it was politely referred to as 'a European carry-all' so that seems very possible. Keep your small bags for males on your side of the Atlantic, buddy!

See you all in 2017!


message 35: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Does he wear a man-bra or 'bro'?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfONN...


message 36: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent It's a manzier!


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