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Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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When 38-year-old, self-confessed unmanly man Stein finds out he and his wife are having a baby boy, he is seized by the compulsion to learn how to do all that manly stuff he’s neglected. So he spends time with some firefighters (all the while hugely intimidated by their dazzling good looks); learns to love dogs (with the help of a former Playboy playmate); gets some lessons in the fundamentals of baseball (from a two-time MLB all-star); and spends a weekend as a Boy Scout (mentored by a 13-year-old named Wiggles). The author’s wife thinks his “manquest” is a stupid idea, but for Stein, it’s a necessary attempt to confront all of the things he’s spent his life avoiding and to learn some skills that will make him a better father to his little boy. It’s a very funny book, but it’s not really a comedy; it’s more like a cockeyed autobiography, an embarrassingly honest story of one man’s last-ditch effort to Become a Man. Most readers—and their female counterparts—will relate to the book in some way. --David Pitt
"This is much more than a funny book, though it is that too. Beneath the humor is a wonderfully poignant exploration of the role of manliness for the 21st century urban guy. It's also a Father's Day love letter disguised as a set of adventure tales. Joel looks lovingly at both his crusty old dad and trusting infant son to reflect deeply on the lessons that we pass along from generation to generation. It made me laugh, and think, a lot."
--Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Steve Jobs
"Many of us men in the Western world struggle with this "forced manliness"- there is a lot of pressure. For some, it is a real struggle. I have seen Joel try to chew tobacco in an attempt to prove that estrogen does not imprison his body. Looking down at his lap and bashfully wiping the remnants of spilled tobacco off his J. Crew slacks did not help his cause. The fact that he laughed at it, though, did. He caught himself trying to be manly and laughed. That is a true man." --Zach Galifianakis
"I am the father only of daughters, and so didn't suffer any existential midlife panic about discovering and demonstrating my latent manliness. But I am happy Joel did, because his infant son inspired him to report and write this rare and splendid thing: an open-minded, open-hearted, bracingly honest, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir that takes life just seriously enough."
--Kurt Andersen, New York Times bestselling author of Heyday
"Despite his best efforts, I'm not sure if Joel Stein will ever be a man, but he made me laugh out loud trying in Man Made." --Andy Borowitz, New York Times bestselling author and humorist
"Joel Stein is one of the funniest writers I've read. An incredible, hilarious saga of one man's transformation from really wimpy to just kind of wimpy." -Neil Strauss, New York Times bestselling author of The Game and Emergency
"Joel Stein's book will make you act in a very unmanly way-you will spend hours giggling like a 5th grade girl. He writes about fatherhood and son-hood with great insight, humor and, yes, even poignancy. It made me proud to share the same basic gender with him" -AJ Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
"If Joel Stein can learn to be a man, a man in the old and rugged sense of the word, then anyone can. And that's what gives me hope. What gave me profound and dizzy pleasure, though, was reading this wild account of how he did it. I dare you to follow him on his dangerous quest and I double dare you not to laugh." -Walter Kirn, New York Times bestselling author of Up in the Air
"This entertaining and irreverent memoir will make you laugh out loud, teach you a surprising amount about various bastions of American masculinity, and leave you feeling glad that you're not married to Joel Stein." -Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife
"To man up, Stein goes all Plimpton . . . MAN MADE reminds us of his wonderful ability to find surprise within a cliché . . . hilarious."-New York Times Book Review
"Stein proves himself to be a champion humorist by probing the serious side of his subject while peppering the paragraphs with numerous fresh and funny notions."
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In the third chapter of Man Made, Stein immerses himself in sports. He had batting practice with an MLB All-Star and watched football games with former a NFL linemen. In the chapter Stein makes a realization that seems to be a recurring theme throughout the rest of the book. He wrote “In fact, Shawn [Green] made me think I don't need to change to become the man I want to be. I can still be a total wimp on the inside. I just need to expose myself to a broader world, like shawn did, and like I’m trying to do with these adventures. I need to expand, not change” (Stein 70). Stein begins to see that he should stay true to himself. While having a better understanding of certain experiences will be good for him and help him raise his son, changing himself or putting on a mask would really be less manly. Earlier in the chapter he writes “Our culture celebrates the other half of masculinity, the fiery destructive half, where you brag, threaten, and fight. I want to be on the other side…” (Stein 67). He realizes that he doesn't have to threaten everyone around him to be masculine. This other side of manliness Stein is describing can be seen in the show Parks and Recreation. The character Ron Swanson, a man who spent his afternoons in middle school working in a coal mine and now spends his free time making canoes and escaping from society to the log cabin he built himself. Ron is arguably the most masculine man on the show without the bragging, threatening half Stein talks about. While trying to define masculinity Stein realizes it is represented with very vague ideas and characteristics that apply to both men and women at times. I think Stein is already masculine by wanting to stay true to himself and seeking more experience to be a better role model for his son.
I wish I could get my money back.