Manhood for Amateurs (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Despite their diversity of topic and their previous publication in various periodicalsprincipally in Detailsthe essays collected in Manhood for Amateurs are strongly interrelated. The book groups them thematically under section titles such as “Exercises in Masculine Affection,” “Styles of Manhood,” and “Studies in Pink and Blue.” They are even more closely tied by the key word in the book’s title, “amateurs,” and ultimately by the thread of Michael Chabon’s abiding interests and passions.
It is clear that Chabon chose his title carefully for its constructive associations. He concedes that “we must accept the inevitable connotation of hopeless ineptitude that amateur carries,” but in the positive sense, an amateur (the term derives from the French word for “lover”) is one who pursues a subject or discipline with passion, though generally with little or no tangible reward. As Chabon sees it, there are two ways in which one may be an “amateur” man: in forebodings of failure and doom and in the sharing of enthusiasms that mark one as a “fan.”
The enterprises a boy or man undertakes and the attempts he makes to master his roles in life may be doomed to failure. Chabon explains this in his opening essay, “The Losers’ Club,” about his unsuccessful attempt at age ten to start a comic book fan group. Although his mother encouraged this venture (an “overwhelming maternal task”), he...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 22 (August 1, 2009): 4.
Christianity Today 53, no. 11 (November. 2009): 70.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 12 (June 15, 2009): 640.
Library Journal 134, no. 13 (August 1, 2009): 97-98.
New York 42, no. 32 (October 5, 2009): 91.
The New York Times, October 19, 2009, p. 1.
The New York Times Book Review, October 18, 2009, p. 15.
The New Yorker 85, no. 32 (October 12, 2009): 34-35.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 29 (July 20, 2009): 131.
The Virginia Quarterly Review 85, no. 4 (Fall, 2009): 216.
(The entire section is 50 words.)