Being a dad is not what it used to be. Sometime between the era when my father raised children and my own ongoing efforts, parenting became self-conscious. What had been a seat-of-the-pants operation in the days of Kennedy and Nixon turned into a thoroughly analysed undertaking by the time of Clinton and the Bushes. Although I would have once maintained that the newer approach is superior, I now wonder if there was not a good deal of wisdom in my father’s hands-off approach.
Michael Chabon – who was born four years after me and grew up in the same Maryland town – captures this generation divide in his fine collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs. His book is very much a game of two halves. Those essays dealing with his parents