Victoria's Reviews > Manhood for Amateurs

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
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's review
Apr 21, 2012

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This is a book of essays and musings on what it means to be a boy, a father and a husband, told in Chabon's hopeful and full-of-wonder style. I absolutely love his novels, and I wasn't expecting this to be quite the same. He's not creating the quirky worlds here that he has in his novels. He's writing about his own.

Chabon talks about his childhood and what he calls the loss of creativity and adventure that happened when adults started micromanaging the lives and imaginations of children. Pop culture references abound--anyone in the 40-50 age range will remember fondly the Lego sets, comic books and canceled TV shows (the '70s show Planet of the Apes) he mentions. I can't believe there is a whole chapter on Wacky Packages, the beloved, grossout sticker craze of the '70s. I loved those things. Now I find they were the beginning of a movement by adults to architect all the cool kid fads themselves!

There are beautiful moments of insight and truth here. But three quarters of the way through the book, I started to get tired of Chabon's life and his earnest struggles. I began to see too many of his personal cliches emerge. This is a good book, not to plow through in a sitting, but to pick up and read an essay or two from when you want some gentle, humorous perspective on parenting and life in our times.
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