Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

Today I'm doing a review with my pal Kelly over at The Written World. And it's for an incredible book; Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. A book that I think should be read by everyone. Certainly not only by men. We each gave each other three questions to answer about the book. You can click on over to her blog to read the answers to the questions I asked her. Here are my answers to her questions: 1. If this the only Chabon book you have to judge by (and I think it is) what do you think about his writing? Will you read more by him based on this collection? It is the only Chabon book I've read! And it certainly will not be my last. In fact, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship. Honestly, I was scared to death of Michael Chabon before reading this book. He won a Pulitzer. That alone makes me scared of an author. But I've always just assumed that his books are too smart for me. And that is absolutely NOT to say that his books are not smart. This book was very smartly written, but so well presented. The language just flows perfectly. I'm glad I started with a work of non-fiction with Chabon. It gives me a sense of his true voice. This is a collection of essays, short essays. His tone goes from whimsical to comical to philisophical to absolutely beauty in a matter of sentences. It worked just perfectly for me. Felt almost conversational at times. He painted beautiful pictures in my head that made me laugh aloud at times, took my breath away sometimes with a couple of words - just in the way he would phrase something, and would bring a tear to my eyes at other times. What I found I loved more than anything about Chabon's writing is that as a whole, it's wonderful. But he throws in little gems here and there that just catch you. Little special moments that just make you stop. And reread that one line over and over again. I remember going over a line a few times in this book and thinking to myself "that's one of the most beautiful things I've read". It's like he can paint a masterpiece with a few words. 2. What was your favourite essay in this collection? Why? Sorry, but I'm going to give you a total sell out answer here :p I can't pick a favorite essay in this collection. I had many. Many, many favorites that stood out to me in this collection. For so many reasons that I'll get into more in the next question. There was the essay on being assumed to be a wonderful father just because he had his son with him in the grocery store, the essay on circumcision and the reasonings behind it and on if it's cruel, the night he took his son to the park when Obama was elected president and held him on his shoulders, the time he bought a man purse and enjoyed it, the essay on why men do not use instruction manuals and the deeper philosophy behind it, the evolution of legos, his first sexual encounter with an older woman and the feelings associated with it (not what you might expect). I loved this mans thoughts. I really did. 3. This was supposed to be a book for manhood. Did you learn anything? I don't know that "learned" would be the right word to use here, but I was so happy to have read this book. Because I related to it so much and it felt good to see a man be so open and honest about his feelings. We live in a world that is so divided by gender and it seems to become more and more divided by gender. All of the -isms seem to be focused on the differences between each other, when it's been my view that it should focus on how we are similar. How we are and should be equal. Of course, no two people are going to share the same interests. I understand that, but this book made me a little more comfortable with myself and I thank Mr. Chabon for that. It's become acceptable these days, not just acceptable, but expected, that men fit a certain role. And personally, I think it's a disgusting role. I see it so much all the time...we all do. A guy is expected to find a nice little girl that'll take care of all his needs, in the bedroom and out, give him bragging rights to his friends, get drunk and make an ass of himself and it's cool, you're supposed to LOVE sports, you should probably love hunting and fishing, baseball caps, drive a truck, etc. I'm NOT saying here that I have anything against anyone who likes any of the above things. What I do have a problem with is societies expectations that men SHOULD love all of the above things. And if you don't, then you're a freak, or not a real man. Personally, I don't like many of the above mentioned things. Chabon does like a lot of the above mentioned things. At least he likes sports and I know he's gotten drunk quite a few times. I'VE gotten drunk quite a few times and like my fair share of sports too. But guess what? I also like long baths, I like to read, I like nature, I'm trying to learn to crochet. And what I loved more than anything about this book is that Chabon challenges these stereotypes of "maleness" too. Over and over again in this collection. And I thought he did it wonderfully. In a way that all men and women can relate to. I don't think this is a book just for men, though I think it is a book that any man can benefit from reading. I think this is a book for anyone that is human to read. After all, isn't that the one thing that we all have in common?

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