Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Manhood for Amateurs

Michael Chabon is an author I've always wanted to read but just haven't yet, and so being a nonfiction geek I decided to listen to his essay collection Manhood for Amateurs, The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son on audiobook. The collection is a series of essays about Chabon's experience as a husband, father, and son, many of which were failings. He talks about how you never really know exactly how you're supposed to react to a situation, and you can think about it forever but when you're put in the place and time you just do what comes to you. Being a woman, I've never had a lot of these experiences and never will, and Chabon interestingly acknowledges that he will never be a woman, and therefore never a wife, mother, or daughter.

As far as the audiobook goes, Chabon reads it which I always like (by that I mean I like it when authors read their own work, not when Chabon reads everything), but his voice doesn't have a lot of fluctuation so at times it gets a little boring to listen to. Other than that, I thought the audio was great. I most enjoyed his essays about being a husband and father. He had this great experience where he was at the store with his kids and a woman came up to him and said, "You're a great father, I can just tell." He really explores that and it turns into a wonderful essay about how any time a man is alone with his children grocery shopping or whatever he is automatically a wonderful father, but when women do it they're just doing what they're supposed to do and don't get any praise for it. Basically, Chabon admits multiple times throughout this book how easy it is to be a man- not that it's easy all the time.

Another favorite moment for me was when his three children ask him what marijuana is, and if he has ever smoked it before. It's a great conundrum, because if tells his kids marijuana is bad and then ten years later they all find out that he did smoke pot in his younger days then they will lose respect for him forever. So he is honest, and he tells his kids that he has smoked pot before, but that he hasn't done it recently, which is true. There are many other moments like these that I'm sure I can't even begin to appreciate because I'm not a parent, but I enjoyed them as someone who has parents.

Some of the transitions were a little difficult to follow, although that might have just been the audio. I feel like there were times when he was talking about being a father and then all of a sudden he was talking about being a son, and they were just unexpectedly next to each other. Obviously all three of those things transfer because your experience as a son has an effect on your experience as a father, and maybe if I read the book version I would be able to see the connections he made between the essays.

Overall I give Manhood for Amateurs a B.

If you'd like to give Michael Chabon a try too, then check out the readalong of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay I'm hosting until the end of this month!

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Manhood for Amateurs + TIME