How to Be a Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood

How to Be a Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood

5.0 1
by Thomas Beller

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From strip clubs to the Academy Awards to the basketball court—a ride through the landscape of guyhood.See more details below


From strip clubs to the Academy Awards to the basketball court—a ride through the landscape of guyhood.

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Some of the pieces are fairly straight reportage, albeit with a personal angle: a center for the treatment of "sex addiction" in Arizona, strip clubs, a minor-league basketball tryout camp. These are all good enough as such things go and contain occasional moments of insight -- "the recovery movement colonizes every aspect of human experience and makes it something that needs to be cured. . . . It makes pathological that which is part of life" -- but the best pieces turn out to be those in which Beller writes about himself and his own experiences.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Old cars, custom carpentry and chemistry sets are just some of the topics novelist Beller (The Sleep-Over Artist) uses to explore his own emotional maturation. In spare, crisp language, his descriptions of items and tasks slowly become excavations of memories. The best sections of his book-which is largely assembled from pieces that first appeared in magazines like the New Yorker and Elle-call to mind Raymond Carver in their clarity of language and subdued emotion. In one essay, Beller's fond recall of his 1977 Thunderbird morphs into a meditation on the difficulty of letting go of the romantic notions of youth. In another, a girlfriend's constant purchases of clothing for the author eventually become occasions for melancholy (the gifts began to feel like apologies). A third piece addresses the "paradoxical reality" of strip clubs: they're "one of the few remaining places men can go to not think about women." The only blot on this otherwise excellent book is the chapter in which Beller describes the end of a relationship between the cofounders of; its reportorial tone feels jarring and out-of-place. The rest of the book is thoughtful and controlled; overall, Beller has penned a fine collection of essays that will resonate with many. Agent, Mary Evans. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Beller is known primarily for fiction (e.g., The Sleep-Over Artist). Here, however, he presents a collection of loosely related essays, many previously published in The New Yorker, Elle, and Men's Health, that analyze his maturation as a young man in New York. The topics range from working at a bagel shop to his beloved car to relationships past and present. As the subtitle suggests, he struggles throughout to come to terms with adulthood. These thoughtful essays will reach more than young twentysomethings going through their own maturation crises; Beller's smooth prose and insightful analyses will appeal to fans of good writing everywhere. He prefaces each piece with his age at the time the scene occurred, but he skips around. Also, the pieces on sex addiction and an office breakup focus (comparatively) impersonally on other people, which is a sharp departure in tone and focus from the rest of the book. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Audrey Snowden, John F. Kennedy Sch., Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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