One for the Dads: Michael Chabon's Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces
Long before he had children and even before his first novel was published, a respected and accomplished novelist told Michael Chabon that children were the opposite of writing. That being a good father and being a serious and respected writer were incompatible. Released in May of 2018 by acclaimed author of 14 published works and father of four, Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces seems to be the ultimate rebuttal of that long ago author's thesis.
Just over 125 pages in length and spanning seven essays plus the introduction, Chabon takes on the push and pull of modern fatherhood, especially the type practiced in socially liberal, cosmopolitan communities. He faces his own evolution away from mysogyny and toward feminism when he encounters his teenage son callous indifference to a girl who clearly liked him. He addresses the challenge of changing times, and racial norms when reading Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn with his kids.
"Little Man", "Bubble People" and "Be Cool or Be Cast Out", all highlight the struggle between acceptance and individuality. How different is too different? Every parent wants their child to be a special little flower, but not so special that the other flowers uproot him and leave him gasping on the pavement.
And of course, like any book on fatherhood should, Chabon talks of baseball. Of his own childhood love of sandlot style ball, and his mourning for his own child's ignorance of a summer curfew set by streetlights and bases designated by car bumpers and manhole covers.
Funny and honest, Chabon's Pops is a salute to fatherhood, the struggle, the ways in which it has changed and the pleasure that children bring into the lives of men.