Michael Chabon | Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium | Literary Events | Chicago Reader

Michael Chabon Free Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Wed., Oct. 21, 6 p.m. 2009

Michael Chabon's new autobiographical essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son (Harper), serves up 39 writerly ruminations on modern life as, well, a man. Or more to the point, on modern life as Pulitzer-winning novelist Michael Chabon. Some pieces are weighty and thoughtful, like "D.A.R.E.," in which Chabon the father who's used drugs talks to his kids about drugs, while some are pure fluff: in "I Feel Good About My Murse" he reconciles his ideal of masculinity with the devastatingly urgent matter of carrying a "man purse." Others are deeply poignant: In "The Binding of Isaac" he recounts the night of Obama's victory celebration in Grant Park; watching the Obama family onstage as he stands in the crowd with his son perched on his shoulders, Chabon thinks: I would never have the nerve or the strength or the sense of mission or the grace or the cruelty to do that to you, kid. And Chabon's generally wistful observations on pop culture (e.g. "The Splendors of Crap"), especially comics, offer insights into the themes of some of his novels, including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. (Chabon's wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, earlier this year released her own memoir, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace; that must be one very reflective household.) --Jerome Ludwig

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