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Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Sonby Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon composes dazzling prose. His love for the art of storytelling is evident in everything he writes. His writing is smart, insightful, candid, funny, sympathetic, and mischievous. This gifted combination makes for one of the rare writers from whom a reader always knows to expect something altogether enjoyable. Some of Chabon's works are indeed gems, but all of them are great books.
Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son is precisely what the subtitle says it is. Comprised mostly of essays that were published previously in Details magazine, this collection finds Chabon musing on subjects as disparate as circumcision, baseball, marijuana, superheroes, menarche, Captain Underpants, imagination, Legos, and having sex with your mom's friend when you're 15. It truly seems that Chabon can take any topic, however inherently mundane or fascinating, and craft a piece that is both well written and engrossing. Perhaps what is most magnificent about his writing is that it seems to come from a genuine curiosity and thoughtfulness for things, as is well evident in his fiction. Manhood for Amateurs contains some excellent pieces and, as a whole, is about as good a collection of essays as you're apt to find amongst any of his contemporaries.
"Chabon brings to his autobiographical essays the same things that have made his works of fiction among the most celebrated of the past 20 years — a natural affinity for storytelling; a deep sense of nostalgia; unapologetic celebration of his many geeky, guilty pleasures; sly, often devastating humor; unbending honesty — while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of self-aggrandizement, cynicism, shallow epiphany and self-pity." Marc Covert, the Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
Synopses & Reviews
A shy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of a fabulist, an entire life in parts and pieces, Manhood for Amateurs is 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 lives: as a series of reflections, regrets, and reexaminations, each sparked by an encounter, in the present, that holds some legacy of the past.
What does it mean to be a man today? Chabon invokes and interprets and struggles to reinvent for us, with characteristic warmth and lyric wit, the personal and family history that haunts him even as — simply because — it goes on being written every day. As a devoted son, as a passionate husband, and above all as the father of four young Americans, Chabon presents his memories of childhood, of his parents' marriage and divorce, of moments of painful adolescent comedy and giddy encounters with the popular art and literature of his own youth, as a theme played — on different instruments, with a fresh tempo and in a new key — by the mad quartet of which he now finds himself co-conductor.
At once dazzling, hilarious, and moving, Manhood for Amateurs is destined to become a classic.
"An entertaining omnibus of opinionated essays previously published mostly in Details magazine spotlights novelist Chabon's (The Yiddish Policemen's Union) model of being an attentive, honest father and a fairly observant Jew. Living in Berkeley, Calif., raising four children with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, who has also just published a collection of parenting stories (Bad Mother), Chabon, at 45, revisits his own years growing up in the 1970s with a mixture of rue and relief. A child of the suburbs of Maryland and elsewhere, where children could still play in what he calls in one essay the 'Wilderness of Childhood,' he enjoyed a freedom now lost to kids, endured the divorce of his parents, smoked a lot of pot, suffered a short early marriage and finally found his life's partner, who takes risks where he won't. The essays are tidily arranged around themes of manly affection (his first father-in-law, his younger brother); 'styles of manhood,' such as faking at being a handyman; and 'patterns of early enchantment,' such as his delight in comic books, sci-fi and stargazing. Candid, warm and humorous, Chabon's essays display his habitual attention to craft." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A charming collection of autobiographical essays....Wry and heartfelt, Chabon's riffs uncover brand-new insights in even the most quotidian subjects." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[B]oth 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 what the publisher bills as Chabon's first major nonfiction work." Library Journal (starred review)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author — "an immensely gifted writer and a magical prose stylist" (The New York Times) — offers his first major work of nonfiction with this autobiographical narrative that is as inventive, beautiful, and powerful as his previous works.
This witty and affecting memoir relays the misadventures of a commitment-phobic couple who, on the heels of a heartbreaking year, try to catapult themselves into adulthood by purchasing a dilapidated former crack house and attempting to turn it into a home.
An improbably funny account of how the purchase and restoration of a disaster of a fixer-upper saves a young marriage
When a season of ludicrous loss tests the mettle of their marriage, Matthew Batt and his wife decide not to call it quits. They set their sights instead on the purchase of a dilapidated house in the Sugarhouse section of Salt Lake City. With no homesteading experience and a full-blown quarter-life crisis on their hands, these perpetual grad students/waiters/nonprofiteers decide to seek salvation through renovation, and do all they can to turn a former crack house into a home. Dizzy with despair, doubt, and the side effects of using the rough equivalent of napalm to detoxify their house, they enter into full-fledged adulthood with power tools in hand.
Heartfelt and joyous, Sugarhouse is the story of how one couple conquers adversity and creates an addition to their family, as well as their home.
“Chabon has always been a magical prose stylist, adept at combining the sort of social and emotional detail found in Philip Roths Goodbye, Columbus stories with the metaphor-rich descriptions of John Updike and John Irvings inventive sleight of hand. . . . 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.”
— Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Wondrous, wise and beautiful.”
The bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Werewolves in Their Youth, Wonderboys, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and The Yiddish Policemens Union Michael Chabon “takes [his] brutally observant, unfailingly honest, marvelously human gaze and turns it on his own life” (Time) in the New York Times bestselling memoir Manhood for Amateurs.
About the Author
Michael Chabon lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
Table of Contents
What Well Call Home 3
The Scene and the Scenery 9
The Cuts and Clarities of Diamonds 36
Chuck Norris Time 48
South of Bountifu 61
On Moving On 70
Gathering Jacks 85
The Mandoor 94
This Little Knife of Mine 103
Fast Dancing 117
Lesser Acts of Transubstantiation 126
Remnants of an Ancient Sea 143
Getting Out of Sand Traps 160
In Defense of Dilettantes 175
Behind the Confectionary 187
Finish, Carpenter! 207
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