Top critical review
Self Hatred for Professionals
on 9 April 2015
Michael Chabon is one of my favourite authors. I have read all of his fiction, laughing at all of his jokes in the right places, and full of admiration for his craft skills. I have given some of his books as gifts to close friends, adored Wonder Boys, Gentlemen of the Road, Kavalier and Clay, Yiddish Policemen's Union and best of all, Telegraph Avenue. So why do I so dislike this charmingly written but unrewarding loosely connected essays about being a man?
It's because Chabon hates being one. It is pretty obvious why. When his parents split up, Mike blamed his Dad. He has bought the whole feminist critique, hook line and sinker. For him, women are difficult to write because he can't bear offending them. Men, no problem. He hates men enough to be penetrating, funny, honest, etc. It's a bit like his Judaism - his masculinity is an embarrassment to him. He has never heard of, or will not accept misandry - or even the humanity of women. Men can be vile, aggressive, sexist, violent, cruel - the whole nine yards. Women can only be - you know, perfect. It sickens me, this male self-hatred, borne of extreme self criticism and denial of the flaws of a whole different gender, labeled misogyny.
This does not mean I did not enjoy large parts of this book. I found some of these short essays funny, insightful, well written, etc. But deep at the core of the book is a guilt about being a man I find repulsive.