Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son
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Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son

2.9 48
by Michael Chabon
     
 

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Ashy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of fabulist, an (entire life in parts and pieces, Manbood for Amateursis the first sustained work of personal writing from Michael Chabon. In these insightful, provocative, slyly interlinked essays, one of our most brilliant and humane writers presents his autobiography and his vision of life in the way so

Overview

Ashy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of fabulist, an (entire life in parts and pieces, Manbood for Amateursis the first sustained work of personal writing from Michael Chabon. In these insightful, provocative, slyly interlinked essays, one of our most brilliant and humane writers presents his autobiography and his vision of life in the way so many of us experience our own: as a series of reflections, regrets and re-examinations, each sparked by an encounter, in the present, that holds some legacy of the past. In the process, he illuminates what it means to be a man today.

At once dazzling, hilarious, and moving, Manhood for Amateurs isdestined to become a classic.

Editorial Reviews

A few years ago, Entertainment Weekly painted a word picture of married novelists Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman working back-to-back at opposite desks in a backyard writing cottage that smells of Spanish cedar, "a famous-and famously in love-writing pair like Nick and Nora Charles with word processors and not so much booze." That idyllic image doubtless sold books (and magazines), but the truth, of course, is much more complicated. During his hectic career, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Kavalier & Clay has survived one divorce, several critical controversies, a major novel mishap, and several encounters with Hollywood. In Manhood for Amateurs, he revisits the particulars of his experiences, including generous portions of both pleasure and regret.
David Kamp
A lot of Dad Lit makes me cringe, and, worse, makes me think less of writers I'd previously admired…So it's a relief to say that Manhood for Amateurs isn't really Dad Lit, at least not in the Xtreme sense that its user's-manual-like handle indicates. While it bears some of the hallmarks of the genre…the book is a closer relation to Joan Didion's White Album. That is to say, it's not a chronicle, but rather a vaguely themed collection of thoughtful first-person essays…that capture a certain time and mood. The theme: maleness in its various states—boyhood, manhood, fatherhood, brotherhood. The time: now, juxtaposed frequently with Chabon's 1970s childhood. The mood: wistful…Ultimately, what makes this collection so melancholically pleasurable is not the modern-dad stuff but Chabon's ready and vivid access to his own childhood.
—The New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
…for the most part in these pages [Chabon] manages to write about himself, his family and his generation with humor and introspective wisdom. As in his novels, he shifts gears easily between the comic and the melancholy, the whimsical and the serious, demonstrating once again his ability to write about the big subjects of love and memory and regret without falling prey to the Scylla and Charybdis of cynicism and sentimentality.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Chabon delivers a polished, subtle, and enjoyable rendition of his first major work of nonfiction. In plumbing his own experiences as husband and father of four to explore masculinity in all its messiness and promise, Chabon offers a powerful paean to family life. Whether describing his boyhood, his years of dedicated marijuana smoking, the evolution of comic book heroines, his children’s art projects, his marriage, or his career, Chabon is a relaxed and likable reader: his nuanced narration enhances his prose and offers the listener a window into his inner life that deepens the potency and meaning of these essays. Reflective but never indulgent, emotional but never sentimental, and philosophical while remaining funny to the core, this is richly rewarding listening. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, July 20). (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
The author creates a unique memoire by compiling individual essays. His first chapter is a funny recap of his attempt at forming a comic book club at the age of ten. He then moves to thoughts on being a father, husband, son, and man. He has a keen insight on the perceptions of fathers in America beginning with his statement, "The handy thing about being a father is that the historical standard is so pitifully low." He shares his disappointment in the essence of childhood today, where Lego blocks come in tightly structured designs leaving little room for imaginative play, and where kids no longer spend hours outdoors exploring their environment. His section titled "Styles of Manhood" contains some very funny pieces on being a man, including the male impulse to refuse to admit one's inadequacy, and the principle that "no man, ever, ought to carry a purse." Chabon's writing is blaringly honest, at times self-condemning, but always thought-provoking. There is sure to be at least one treasured essay for every reader of this book. Reviewer: Jody Little
Library Journal
In his second essay collection, following Maps and Legends (2008), justifiably acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Chabon (www.michaelchabon.com) ponders such topics as childhood, sex, love, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, feminism, baseball, comic books, and mortality. Generally, Chabon's comments on popular culture are more interesting and revealing than those involving his private life. His slightly nasal voice and unpolished reading take some getting used to, but his enthusiasm is infectious, as with his joyous account of his children's devotion to Doctor Who. Recommended for Chabon's fans, appreciators of popular culture, and those (especially males) who grew up in the 1970s. [The Harper hc received a starred review, LJ 8/09.—Ed.]—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
A charming collection of autobiographical essays-on childhood, parenthood and lifelong geekhood-from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. In modern classics like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) and The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007), Chabon (Gentlemen of the Road, 2007, etc.) gave genre writing literary heft, and he does much the same here. His material is the stuff of folksy, small-town newspaper columns, but he applies an unusual level of wit and candor to the form. In his essay on Legos, he drills deep into the tactile pleasures they provided him as a child and the frustrations that their current complex, imagination-killing designs give him as a parent. Writing about cooking, he patiently runs through the details of the first crumb cake he successfully baked as a nine-year-old. "A Woman of Valor" looks at Big Barda, a little-loved comic-book superheroine. It's a sharp essay on the definition of sincerely powerful women and why they rarely appear in pop culture. Chabon's tone is nostalgic, funny and self-deprecating, though the memories are often bittersweet: the strange, brief fling he had with a friend of his mother's when he was 15, bad experiences with women his own age, a botched first marriage, a drug-addicted acquaintance slipping away from his efforts to help. Chabon discusses life as a writer only glancingly. He briefly notes, for instance, his struggle to create an authentic female character in Kavalier & Clay-eventually gutting 400 pages of effort-within the context of misogyny in pop culture, and mentions David Foster Wallace's suicide only as a launchpad for an essay on his wife's bout with depression. Even his defense of MFAs says more about theemotional maturity he received pursuing the degree than anything about craft. Only once, in a forced bit of punditry about Jose Canseco and steroids, is he off his game. He'd much rather discuss sharing Doctor Who with his kids, and he's clearly having so much fun being a dad-and thinking about what it means to be a dad-that it's a wonder he has time to create such excellent novels. Wry and heartfelt, Chabon's riffs uncover brand-new insights in even the most quotidian subjects.
Jeremy Adam Smith
“Hilarious, moving, pleasurable, disturbing, transcendent, restless. . . . And seemingly by accident, Chabon ultimately does create a composite image of ideal manhood, one that is modest, responsible, bemused, empathic, and thoughtful.”
Lev Grossman
“Chabon brings his prodigiously entertaining verbal intelligence to a very personal investigation of what it means to be a father, a son, and a husband.”
Douglas C. Lord
“Both lyrical and side-splittingly funny. . . . Readers seeking the intelligence of Updike; the gentle, brainy appeal of Sedaris; or the literary virtuosity of Nabokov will thoroughly enjoy.”
Jerry Eberle
“Chabon takes a big, fat swing at the essay form with his second collection and achieves success. . . . These warm and thoughtful essays underscore just how good a wordsmith Chabon is-regardless of the form he chooses.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061490187
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Jerry Eberle
“Chabon takes a big, fat swing at the essay form with his second collection and achieves success. . . . These warm and thoughtful essays underscore just how good a wordsmith Chabon is-regardless of the form he chooses.”
Douglas C. Lord
“Both lyrical and side-splittingly funny. . . . Readers seeking the intelligence of Updike; the gentle, brainy appeal of Sedaris; or the literary virtuosity of Nabokov will thoroughly enjoy.”
Jeremy Adam Smith
“Hilarious, moving, pleasurable, disturbing, transcendent, restless. . . . And seemingly by accident, Chabon ultimately does create a composite image of ideal manhood, one that is modest, responsible, bemused, empathic, and thoughtful.”
Lev Grossman
“Chabon brings his prodigiously entertaining verbal intelligence to a very personal investigation of what it means to be a father, a son, and a husband.”

Meet the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the novels The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Gentlemen of the Road, and Telegraph Avenue; the short story collections A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth; and the essay collections Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Berkeley, California
Date of Birth:
May 24, 1963
Place of Birth:
Washington, D.C.
Education:
B.A., University of Pittsburgh; M.F.A., University of California at Irvine
Website:
http://www.michaelchabon.com/

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Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
samildanach More than 1 year ago
I can't praise this collection of essays more highly. I read it while in the hospital caring for my baby in the Alta-Bates NICU. The book has left me with plenty to chew on, and is a fantastic and fun read to boot. I will probably be re-reading it many times, to tease out more wisdom and revisit someone's past that is not my own. Thank you Michael Chabon.
RJBNJ More than 1 year ago
Anything he writes is colorful and provocative. He is fortunate to have a nice family life and be able to write about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a father but still I enjoyed reading this delightful collection of essays from Michael Chabon. I have read three of his novels but this is my first attempt at his non-fiction. I found it engaging and a joy to read. Easy to follow, I finished this in a day and a half. It is a wonderful glimpse at a family making its' way through life during this century we are all gently entering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent stories with insight to youth and maturity. Great language, Chabon is a master.
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