… “Manhood for Amateurs.”
Another of the book’s consistent motifs is the disappearance of childhood. With vivid access to his own, Chabon is able to contrast the ways in which his kids’ imaginations are imposed upon and pre-imagined by, for example, the “authoritarian nature of the new Lego” and “the orthodoxy of ‘Toy Story.'” To Chabon’s mind, these products lack the open-endedness of “crap” entertainment like the short-lived “Planet of the Apes” TV show of his youth, into whose shaky plotlines a child could more easily project himself. Still, he trusts in the innovative potential of the child psyche: “Kids write their own manuals in a new language made up of things we give them and the things they derive from the peculiar wiring of their own heads.” As a manual to Chabon’s own peculiar wiring, “Manhood for Amateurs” makes for an insightful and highly entertaining guide.
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Chabon’s conjuring of his childhood is perhaps my favorite part this book as well. And I can relate to his lamenting of the loss of childhood freedom like the kind I knew. <sigh>
I’m reading this book slowly, savoring every piece like a fine piece of chocolate. Mmmmmmmmmm.