Vocally, Manhood for Amateurs is a quintessential author reading: the listener is immediately drawn into the imaginary setting of a smallish semi-circle gathered in a bookstore-cum-coffee shop, located perhaps in Portland, or Berkley, or Williamsburg. It's a cozy performance, befitting its domestic themes and miniature childhood epics. Chabon confidently leads you along the many byways and arguments of the truths he's trying to convey through these essays. Quirky or idiomatic vocal inflections suggest passages the author is particularly pleased with, or which he had to struggle to put on paper just so.
The title is kind of a misnomer there is as much here on the rites of childhood and popular culture as a spur for the developing imagination as there is on, say, gender differences. In fact, everything in the domestic sphere is loaded with meaning, and there's a theory behind everything in Chabon's interrelated universe, from early experiences of sexuality to the development of the Lego brick. One of the most evocative themes here is the link between childhood discovery and adventure and the creative impulse. Indebted as the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is to those classic adventure stories he read as a child, he worries about today's micro-managed children and the future of literature if children grow up without adventure in their daily life, what hope is there for the future of adventure literature?
The "manhood" part comes to the fore when Chabon links being an author with his development as a conscientious male he can't separate the two, and telling stories about ourselves just like the ones he's telling you now is an act of creation that simultaneously tries to make sense of the different, oppositional parts of ourselves. This struggle can lead to regrets and disappointments: there are enough twinges of anxiety here to add spice to the overall sweetness of Chabon's nostalgia-infused world. He writes that fatherhood is "a constant state of failure", and the low expectations derived from the amateurishness of fatherhood contrasted with the daily sacrifices and strains demanded of mothers.
The essays here are at their best when they blur the line between nerdy obsessions with the trivia of popular culture and a deeper understanding of life's changes. An account of his daughter's bat mitzvah encompasses musings on the absence of self and the passing of time, but these "autumnal thoughts" are punctured by baseball wisdom and a run-through of his iPod playlist; the point is that these disparate elements of life aren't mutually exclusive they feed each other as well as the internal life of the author. Dafydd Phillips
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: as a series of reflections, regrets, and re-examinations, each sparked by an encounter, in the present, that holds some legacy of the past.
What does it mean to be a man today? As a devoted son, as a passionate husband, and above all as a father, Chabon's 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, are like a theme played 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.
©2009 Michael Chabon; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
"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." (Library Journal)
"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." (Booklist)
"Wry and heartfelt, Chabon's riffs uncover brand-new insights in even the most quotidian subjects....He applies an unusual level of wit and candor to the form." (Kirkus Reviews)
I don't think that the other reviewers actually read this book. Perhaps it is because Michael Chabon and I were born around the same time and have lived some similar experiences, but I thought this book was fantastic. I kept thinking as I would read a particular passage,"yes...I wish I had thought of that" or "I wish I could write like that". It is beautifully written essays about life that are remarkably ordinary and profound at the same time. I love his reading voice too. This is a book that I have now listened to several times and I will keep it on my ipod for a long time hence as well. Thoroughly delightful.
This book simply isn't funny or insightful. Chabon reminds me of Woody Allen, but without the sense of humor. He's just plain whiny and neurotic. Don't waste your time or money.
Anger that I spent money on such trash.Sad that his profanity laced pose passes for an attempt at parental introspection.Disappointed that society has sunken so low.
His anger filled diatribes were not informative or entertaining
mostly nonfiction listener
Fatherhood is about constant failure. We will be impatient when we should be wise. Focussed on trivial matters when we should be hanging out with our kids. Talking when we should be listening. Distracted when we should be focussed. Chabon is one of my favorite novelists, a beautiful and funny writer. His stories of growing up in a divorced household in the 1970s rang true to my own (although Chabon is about 6 years older) - we both swam through endless amounts of pop culture crap. His attempts to create a stable and invigorating home life (4 kids and a writing spouse) provide a funny roadmap and mirror the rest of us amateur dads, husbands, and guys.
As a long time fan of Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman, I felt some trepidation reading his memoir. But my hestitation soon evaporated as I entered into his funny and insightful memories and thoughts.
Mr. Chabon narrates his own story giving it more depth and feeling. He is a funny smart and modest man living a full life as a father, husband and writer.
His insights are worth listening to and this audio book was a pleasure to listen to.
I had moments where I laughed so hard and others where I stopped while I was running on the trail and sat and wept as the images of my life, my own kids, my own father swept over me. What a profound writer and thinker. Outstanding!!!
This book was horrible! This book was seperated into several boring stories of the author's childhood/manhood. The crux of each of these stories offered no real value or intrest. This book was not funny, sentimental, or in any way entertaining. Worst of all was the narration in which the author read the book with the voice and inflections of a 5 year old child. Skip this book.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
This was a quick read book of essays by and about author Michael Chabon's life.
Chabon was surprisingly revealing. (I found myself wondering if I were Michael Chabon's kid, would I want to read something that talks so frankly about my parent's sex life or pot-smoking habits? But, that's part of what makes it interesting.) And, while it seemed kind of light weight and quick-to-digest at the time, even after several weeks I still find myself thinking about and talking about some of his essays with others.
I especially enjoyed the essay about the clock of the long now and how when we were growing up, people actively talked about and imagined the future - what it would be like, look like, the new ways in which people would interact with technology. Chabon said that now, no one thinks about the future - perhaps because daily life is all changing so fast.
Enjoyable, fun and thought provoking!
I tried this one because I enjoyed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay so much.
It was a pleasure to hear him tell his stories, in his own words - his life experience that helped shape that magnificent story.
The only thing I didn't really care for was the "series of short stories" aspect of it. Why I expected a solid through-line or a planned out story arc I don't know, other than I really admired it in his other book. I will certainly be checking out his other books, but eventually - not right away. I need to be ready to hear about another terrible death of a dog.
I'm a landscape architect by profession and an avid listener of audio books ! I particularly love the historical based fiction series, like Courteney, McCammon, and Gabaldon,. I listen in the car, while designing in my studio and most evenings.
Michael gave us a peek into the mind of the "male", a taste of nostalgia and more then a few laughs.
Always love it when the Author can read his own work..We get the insight from the writers personal voice inflection
Sure made me laugh! A lot!
Male or Female...a great read/listen.
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