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madbkwm

madbkwm

Manhood for Amateurs - Michael Chabon So, delving into the personal for a moment; yesterday when I started this book I was having a particularly difficult parental day. My youngest (who is never the easiest child to motivate to dress or brush teeth or shoe and head off to school) was particularly difficult. I finally got the kids in the car only 6 minutes late and dropped at school only a minute late (lots of time can be made up if one is willing to drive 10-15 miles over the speed limit) and then came home and bawled to my husband about how I cannot, absolutely cannot take the stress of the responsibility of getting them off to school. Really, I recognize that I have very few real problems and am more than anything one of the luckiest people I know (in love, finances, work, and children for the most part) BUT the passive aggressive tendencies of my youngest can make me (at times) wish not only that he was never born but that I had the where withall to just abandon the whole shebang and live in a studio apartment over a sleazy coffee shop and wait tables for a mere $20K annually. And then I settled down and did some work and picked up this book and felt not only okay for my selfish desires, but downright normal.

Clearly, I'm not a guy and while I welcome the term nerd (as in mathnerd, booknerd, foodnerd), I have never considered myself a geek (sci fi just does not do so much for me) and so could not relate to all of his stories. However, the parenthood stuff was amazingly refreshing and funny and poignant (especially for me yesterday) and touching. He is self deprecating and hopeful and hard working and optimistic and best of all WITTY.

The title is worth a comment; he spends quite a bit of time defining the term "amateur" as something along the lines of "fan" or "geek" or better yet "enthusiast". An amateur is someone who is willing and interested in a topic; as such rather than the potential self-deprecation that I had assumed "manhood for amateurs" to be I have to re-interpret it as "manhood for those of us who strive to engage life." Overall, the book's moral is simply to do your best and try to enjoy the moment...pretty good stuff.

I have a few great comments below, just gems out of context:

"I define being a good father in precisely the same terms that we ought to define being a good mother--doing my part to handle and stay on top of the endless parade of piddly shit."

"Marijuana could intensify the sunshine of a perfect summer day, but it could also deepen the gloom of a wintry afternoon; it had bred false camaraderies and drawn my attention to deep flaws and fault lines when what mattered--what matters so often in the course of everyday human life--were the surfaces and the joins."

"Adulthood has always carried a burden of self-denial, of surrendering pleasures, of leaving childish things behind."

"Like all obvious questions, none of these can be answered. All human endeavor is subject to cracking."

"The true scarcity we face is of practicing adults, of people who know how marginal, how fragile, how finite their lives and their stories and their ambitions really are but who find value in this knowledge, even a sense of strange comfort, because they know their condition is universal, is shared."