Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mark's Bookshelf 10.29.2009

I love, love, love Michael Chabon. Ever since I reached the final page of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and immediately turned back to page one to read it again. The book just spoke to me in a way that no other novel ever had, at least since I read Fahrenheit 451 in High School, and that was my favorite book of all time...

Until Michael Chabon entered my life.

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son
By Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon and I share a lotof touchstones in life. We both have deep-seated love for Comic Books, Heroic Ficton and other "junk art," as some would label it. When I read his work, he touches on things like, say, the work of Jack Kirby, that I immediately understand, and can go with him on.

I truly feel, especially when reading one of Chabon's essay books, such as this one, that reading his work is like sitting down with an old friend to talk about things we both love. Not to say that all of Chabon's essays are fanboy musings, far from it. In particular, here, he spends a lot of time talking about his role as a father, and I, as yet, have not crossed that bridge. What I mean is that he wraps those experiences in the mind of a man who knows the things I know.

Take, for example, the essay "The Amateur Family," where he relates the bonding his family does over the Brittish series Doctor Who. It made me laugh and cry to hear how he and his children enthused over the series that my wife and I love, as well. It's Chabon's joyus glee in embracing his geekdom, or nerdiness, or whatever you want to call it, that binds me to him.

He touches on some many elements of, well, "manhood" is a great way to put it, because it's not just about being a father, or a son, or a husband, but all of that wrapped together. It felt like a touchstone book for me, one I will come back to as I pass the moments he relates. I'm almost 100% certain that, if I ever have a child, I will re-read the multiple sections on fatherhood, as Chabon seems to have reached a place where I think we all wish fatherhood would always reside. Honesty with a dash of protection.

If nothing else Michael Chabon is a beautiful writer, adn I am constantly amazed by his ability to switch genres and styles without losing his own powerful voice. Sure, I'd much rather have just finished a new novel, but I'd lose out on feeling I got to know a bit of Chabon himself, and that is a grand thing.

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