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Michael Chabon: Anything But an "Amateur"

His new book may be titled Manhood for Amateurs, but Michael Chabon has once again proved himself to be an old hand when it comes to getting great reviews. Chabon, a Berkeley resident, discusses numerous topics in the book, his first-ever collection of essays. (It's probably the only genre he hasn't tried, having released novels, short-story collections, a young-adult book, and a collection of adventure stories for McSweeney's.) Many of the essays focus on his geekier passions, including Legos, baseball cards, Star Trek, and comic books (the inspiration for his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). The centerpiece of the book, however, is his musings on being a father. He and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, are parents of four, and Waldman made headlines in 2005 when she wrote a New York Times essay declaring that she loves Chabon more than their children, which became the complementary essay collection Bad Mother. Chabon himself skirts that topic, but focuses on plenty of other hilarious moments, including his difficulty having the "drug talk" with his kids after years of regular pot-smoking. (He decides to be honest, but when he's asked by his son how many times he's indulged, Chabon fears telling him the truth: "one million.")

The book has gotten positive notices from numerous publications, including the Times, which praised its "humor and introspective wisdom," and the Chronicle, which called it "hilarious, moving, pleasurable...almost never dull." The Los Angeles Times dubbed Chabon "more or less incapable of writing a boring sentence."

If you're interested in seeing Chabon read from the book, he'll appear at City Arts & Lectures on November 9th with Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker writer whose Paris to the Moon also dealt with fatherhood. Look for an interview with him here in early November.