Glenn's Reviews > Manhood for Amateurs

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
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Jan 18, 2011

it was ok

Perhaps I came to this book with too many expectations, given its humorous cover and Chabon's Pullitzer Prize-credentials. But Manhood for Amateurs was a disappointment for me, excepting a couple of essays. I found it slightly pretentious, and overly intellectual. Chabon often comes across as playing with manhood and especially fatherhood, more an observer than a fully engaged participant. Perhaps that is the fault of his writing, and he is in fact totally immersed in parenting. If so, good for him. But….

Above all, the book was dull. I entirely relate to his definition of a good father — "doing my part to handle and stay on top of the endless parade of piddly shit." But my life as boy, man, husband (now divorced), and father has also brought a great deal of laughter and pleasure and adventure, of which Chabon offers only glimpses. That's why I like his closing essay about his daughter's bat mitzvah, and his poignant joy as he and other guys carry her aloft in a chair around the dance floor. Lovely image, lovely prose. Other fine essays cover his wife's bi-polar illness, and his family's worshipping of Dr. Who (great discussion of our universal need to connect). But overall, Chabon's idea of manhood — as written, anyway — was too intellectualized for me. I have a PhD, but much of what I do and feel as a man is physical and emotional and sexual and psychological. Those elements are largely missing from Chabon's manual of manhood.
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