book reviews

October 28, 2010

Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Catherine Rihm


‘Manhood For Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son’

By Michael Chabon

Harper Perennial



306 pp

Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Michael Chabon presents his second collection of essays, a volume of autobiographical pieces showcasing his reflections on being a husband, a father and a son.

“Manhood For Amateurs” offers personal insight into his childhood, writing about growing up in the 1970s in suburban Maryland and comparing those unfettered times with his own children’s experience in Berkeley, Calif., today. There are candid stories of drugs and sex, beautiful reflections on religion and writing, wry and witty observations on the expectations of gender in terms of family roles and responsibilities. Almost all of the essays are humorous, and each, is wholly insightful.

Chabon arranges the book into sections housing themes such as Strategies For the Folding of Time, where he discusses Legos and Captain Underpants; Styles of Manhood, in which he takes on carrying a man-purse, or murse — his version of a diaper bag; and Studies in Pink & Blue, a piece where he contemplates the differences between his sons and daughters — indeed, men and women — as they all sit drawing at the kitchen table.

He describes himself as a passionate amateur, someone devoted to exploring the imaginary world and oneself, and is so pleased to join his wife in raising their four children to be likeminded in their enthusiasm for connecting with the world and all it offers. And his writing here points always to his passion for his family.

Also check out his wife, Ayelet Waldman, and her new book, “Bad Mother” — simultaneously out in paperback this past May — for another response to parenthood and marriage. CV


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