If you visit this site regularly, you probably know I’m a bit of a Michael Chabon fan. (I met him once, you know.) His latest book recently released, and I could not wait to read it.
Pops is a very slim collection of nonfiction essays. I particularly enjoy Chabon’s nonfiction because he is unafraid. He addresses topics that would scare most authors. Specifically, he has no issues admitting that fatherhood, and manhood for that matter, is a bit of a work in progress for him. Even though none of us have it figured out, he readily admits that fact.
Remember, Chabon is a world-renowned Pulitzer Prize winner. He should have an ego the size of a mansion, but he doesn’t. His humility is both refreshing and inspiring.
At just 127 pages, Pops succinctly delves into Chabon’s adventures in fatherhood. If I’m not mistaken, each of his children serves as the focus of an essay. The themes range from discovering the true nature of a child to seizing upon missed opportunities to trying to teach boys not to act like assholes. There’s much more, of course, but the unifying factor throughout is Chabon admitting to his own mistakes and simply trying to do the best he can.
The book ends, interestingly enough, with Chabon writing an essay about his own father. If you are a consistent reader of Chabon, you understand that this is well-covered ground. He is not mean when it comes to his own father, yet he also isn’t sugarcoating anything. It’s obvious that he loves his own dad, but it’s also apparent that he didn’t always like the man.
If find it fascinating that in a book about his own trials, tribulations, and triumphs as a father, he ends on a note that helps us to understand the events that forged the sort of father he would one day become. Now, I trust Chabon completely. I’ve been reading him since 2004, and I’ve never had reason to doubt his honor or sincerity. However, it is worth noting that in all his recollections regarding his father, we’ve only had his unique perspective. And now, in writing about himself as a father, we only have his point of view. What would his own children say about these essays? Will they find Chabon’s writing compatible with their own personal experiences?
Chabon is incredibly intelligent. It would not surprise me at all if he were to have his children participate in a podcast or an interview or something to serve as a companion piece to this novel. It simply struck me as an interesting thought.
As always, Chabon delivers beautiful prose describing his escapades in parenting. If you love his writing, you’ll love this book.
(Did you enjoy this review? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)