The Pulitzer Prize-winning author— "an immensely gifted writer and a magical prose stylist" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)—offers his first major work of nonfiction, an autobiographical narrative as inventive, beautiful, and powerful as his acclaimed, award-winning fiction.
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.
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 statesboyhood, 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.