Pops, by Michael Chabon. Book report #18 (2019)

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, by Michael Chabon. Pub. 2018

It was the title of this one that got me – not many people I know refer to their father as “pop” as I do – and also Michael Chabon as the author. I have read only a few of his books, and enjoyed each of them but not really loved them enough to seek them out specifically. This short collection was a treat.

The seven essays address his own attempts, failures, long shots, recognitions, regrets, and love for his children and his own father – with all the complexity that those relationships have. Few people I know have simple relationships with their fathers (or either parent, really) and many dads that I know have similarly complex relationships with their own children, mostly coloured with doubts and fears, layered with the fervent hope that they don’t screw it up.

Not being a parent myself, my favourite story was the last – his reminiscence of times with his own father. I could relate to the late-in-life glimpses of the nature of that kind of love and affection, even if they never quite resolve into recognition or understanding before it is too late. Perhaps that mystery is the truth of the father-child relationship. Perhaps it is necessary to ensure that our children, and our relationships with them, are as unique and fragile as those with our own parents – it can’t be too easy.

I’d recommend this for parents (moms and pops) when they’re midway through raising their kids, as an affirmation that there is no secret formula for doing it right, and almost everyone is doing it “wrong” but as best as they can.

3 – published in 2018

9 – a books of essays

13 – a book with a name in the title (I called my father “pop”)

18 – a book you can read in one day

28 – a book leftover from last year

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