Top positive review
A 21st Century Man
Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2010
Anyone who reads Details magazine will recognize many of the essays in this collection as they first appeared there. Even so, it is great to have them collected in one place and a pleasure to read them again. Chabon really is a strong prose stylist, especially in the essay form.
The best thing about these essays is how much they ring true, particularly to a man of Chabon's generation. The flexibility of fact and truth is problematic in his other essay collection, Maps and Legends, but here, almost everything hits close to home.
Essentially, these essays center on what it means to be a man in all his incarnations in 21st century America. All of them are engaging but some were real high points. In "William and I" he takes off from a complement on being a good father to discuss how the standards for good fatherhood are still low compared to what it takes to be considered a good mother. In "I Feel Good About My Murse" his muses over getting a bag in which to carry all his stuff. In "The Amateur Family" he reclaims the meaning of the word amateur to describe his efforts to bring up four children as "geeks". Along the way he also talks deeply about his own childhood, his experiences as a divorced/remarried man, and his writing career, among other things.
Overall, there's hardly a sour note in the book. It is an excellent and easy read, particularly for a man of a certain age (and the women who want to know him better).