A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
I have never read a Michael Chabon novel, but I was willing to try his essays, so I borrowed the audiobook Manhood for Amateurs: the Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. There are a slew of novelists that I have not read as novelists, enjoying their essays instead, including Jonathan Franzen, Joan Didion, and Julian Barnes. Similarly, I enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver’s essays more than her fiction. So I thought Manhood for Amateurs might be worth trying, and it was.
Having a downloadable audiobook without the credit pages that I would have found in the paper book, I do not know the period over which he wrote the essays, but I guess from what he says in them that he began in the late 1980s. I sense different time-specific perspectives as he recounts the ages of his life so far. I discovered that he is older than I imagined – just about young as you can be and still be considered a baby boomer – and that I identified with many of his topics – collecting baseball cards, being a nerd, fatherhood, and aging parents. What he wrote about that was foreign to my experience I still found interesting and worth contemplating.
A bonus is that Chabon reads his essays himself. I felt like he was talking right to me. This is not because I’m a guy. Manhood for Amateurs is not just addressed to men. Women can read it, too. Being both sensitive and slightly nerdy, he is very likable. – Review by Rick