This book is funny, smart and soulful. What Manhood for Amateurs basically amounts to is an impressionistic memoir formed from a series of short interwoven essays that riff on fatherhood, brotherhood, husband-hood and various other aspects of maleness. Chabon is a great writer but to dwell on the quality of his prose (which here as always is quite fine) misses the point. This book has real heart and warmth and touches on some home truths about what it might mean to be a Man (yes, note the capital M) in this day and age. As my brother awaited the birth of his second child I handed him a copy of Manhood for Amateurs. It’s that kind of book.— Matt, Los Angeles
“This collection of essays offers Michael Chabon's thoughts and observations on a wide range of topics from various vantage points in his life: son, grandson, brother, lover, husband, and father. The subjects are varied, but the writing is consistently sharp, poignant, humorous, and a pure joy to read.”
— Anne Miley, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
“Demonstrating his range, depth, intelligence, and tenderness, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Chabon takes us on a tour of contemporary maleness via his own life. It's a fascinating complement and counterpoint to the recent and wonderful Bad Mother, a tour of femaleness by his wife, Ayelet Waldman. Both books are terrific reading group choices, and they'll leave you feeling that Chabon and Waldman are your new -- and smartest -- best friends.”
— Banna Rubinow, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
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.
“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.”
-Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Chronicle
“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.”
-Lev Grossman, Time (Top 10 Nonfiction Books Citation)
“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 (starred review)
“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.”
-Douglas C. Lord, 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.”
-Jerry Eberle, Booklist