Joshua Pruett's Reviews > Manhood for Amateurs

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
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's review
Aug 09, 2011

really liked it

Part autobiography, part topographical map of manhood, “…Amateurs” renders fatherhood, husband-hood, son-hood, and brother-hood as a ‘great and terrible Oz’ throwing wide his own curtain to reveal the frail human behind the masculine mechanisms, admitting “I don’t know how to work this thing.” As a new father myself, I found it to be discouraging at times, particularly in the definition of a father as “a man who fails every day.” Maybe, I just haven’t been a father long enough. But for even the casual reader, there is so much wonder, joy, and enthusiasm to survey here – from reclassifying ‘geek’ as ‘passionate amateur’ (and aren’t we all when it comes to things we love), the glories of Lego-building, bad television that inspires creativity, worshipping at the altar of Doctor Who and the ‘in-doctor-nating’ of his children, Christmas and the tears a little boy named Linus brings every year, a satisfying smattering of sex and baking, acid reflux, comic books, radio-song-sense-memory, child birth and my favorite part; the emotional excavation and subsequent preservation in amber of his own story, thanks to his younger brother, “his witness, his partner, his inventor, his heart, his courage…” Entertaining, enlightening and filled with blush-inducing candor, this book proposes that we never stop being amateurs at being human, while proving that Chabon is no amateur teller of stories, even when they’re his own.
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