Between Ayelet's controversial 2005 New York Times article and ensuing Oprah appearance and Michael's new non-fiction, the Chabon family is out to entertain again with more on what's happening at home. Taking a stab at non-fiction this time, Manhood for Amateurs is a turn inward, a collection of essays about Chabon's own progression from boyhood to manhood and the mistakes and discoveries he made along the way.
"Chabon is more or less incapable of writing a boring sentence," writes the LA Times. Comparing Chabon to John Updike, Steve Almond declares in his review that:
...he is an inveterate noticer, and the central appeal of his style lies in its lyric precision, whether he's describing a pack of stickers "scented with the sweet dust of bubble gum" or a fudge upside-down cake "floating like the earth's mantle on a glutinous brown magma.
The memoir takes on touchy issues that might shock parents more traditional than Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother, who admitted in her New York Times article to loving her husband more than her children. Chabon and Waldman's humorous and honest parenting is clear in anecdotes such as Chabon's response to his 10-year-old son when asked how many times he had smoked marijuana ("a million"). In the National Post's review and interview with the author, he responds to worries that his stories may offend:
"Things can set somebody off that you never dreamed would offend -- and I'm not just talking about writing. You might go your whole life trying to avoid that outcome, but if you spend all your time worrying, you won't write anything down."
Chabon finds his focus in this collection in parenthood. A review from NPR says:
He writes movingly that in his four children he has found "a band of companions" with whom to share various enthusiasms, something he pointedly missed when his pediatrician father moved away after his parents' divorce.
Manhood for Amateurs, already an IndieBound bestseller, is sure to be a major release in non-fiction this year. Chabon, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, is not unused to the bestseller lists; most recenly, The Yiddish Policeman's Union (2007) spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Read an excerpt from Manhood for Amateurs from the New York Review of Books here.