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Manhood for Amateurs

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  7,646 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author--"an immensely gifted writer and a magical prose stylist" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)--offers his first major work of nonfiction, an autobiographical narrative as inventive, beautiful, and powerful as his acclaimed, award-winning fiction.

A shy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of a fabulist, an entire life in

Hardcover, First Edition, 306 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by HarperCollins (first published September 21st 2009)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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(B-) 70% | Satisfactory
Notes: It's a competently written, yet scattershot collection of loosely grouped-together, largely forgettable magazine pieces.
Violet wells
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
One thing I realised while reading these autobiographical essays was I would prefer to be Michael Chabon's daughter than his wife. This because he comes across as one of those boy men who has never quite transcended the communion he knew with childhood toys and games. In other words, he's a geek. This in turn helped me understand why his books are so uneven. There can be a strain of silliness, of immaturity in his lesser novels. He's not the most disciplined of novelists; he allows himself a fai ...more
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
B 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
Matthew Quann
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not the sort of person who gets much out of self-help books, but Michael Chabon's erudite musings may be as close as I'm likely to get.

Much like his series of essays released last year, Pops , Manhood for Amateurs sees Chabon reflecting on oodles of life's quandaries in his typical lyrical style. I love how essays about the complexities of male-female relations sit alongside essays about esoteric DC comic super heroines, and Chabon's use of nerd terminology slots in quite nicely with the
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read the audiobook, narrated by the author himself. Of course I loved the parts about Pittsburgh the most... the story about getting lost in Panther Hollow especially squeezed my heart, but I also loved anytime he talks about his wife. So grownuply romantic. You also get some glimpses into his writing process (he talks about Kavalier and Clay a few times!) and some stories from his childhood that I swear I've read elsewhere.

I think "Parenthood for Amateurs" or "Adulthood for Amateurs" would h
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not a man or a father so obviously I am not the intended audience, but I thought this book was absolutely delightful. I loved Chabon's thoughts and writings on childhood and marriage and life and fatherhood. He is a very good essayist--and here is another author I love more as a non-fiction writer than a novelist. I wish he'd write more essays so I can read them ...more
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 26, 2016 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
Nov 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
reading is my hustle
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.
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
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2012, 2018
(2012 review)
Having read and enjoyed three of Chabon's books already (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: good, The Yiddish Policemen's Union: very good, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: sublime), I dove into my borrowed copy of Manhood for Amateurs with a mix of expectation and wariness. Expectation, because, having seen Chabon at his best, I was curious to get inside his head and life, and wariness because of the inevitability of disappointment.

Both scenarios were realized. Manhood is
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
“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 rated it really liked it
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 writing,
Dylan Perry
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reread: May-June 2019
Even better the second time around. Honestly, I forgot my problems with the book long ago, and having just reread my old review, the essays I complained about didn't even standout on a reread. In fact, I quite liked the radio station chapter. It still lacks that something special to push it over to a full 5-star, but regardless Manhood for Amateurs is excellent through and through. 4.5/5

Original Review
Recommend: Yes

"Manhood" is not a straight-forward memoir. It is a colle
Tom Quinn
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Chabon presents himself as a lovable loser, a guy I can really relate to. I read this on another reader's recommendation shortly after I became a first-time father. I think the concept of masculinity as a whole is very confusing in our modern times, as we both aspire to and reject the traditional machismo of Hemingway and both embrace and feel uncomfortable towards the sensitive new age male of the early 90s. Things haven't gelled very satisfactorily for American male identity, but we men are st ...more
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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 made in ...more

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