Pops, Michael Chabon's third collection of essays, is a fun-loving meditation on fatherhood. Chabon remembers the small moments between himself and his four children that culminate in a rewarding, albeit sometimes challenging, life as a father. In "Little Man," he grapples with the understanding that his children will become people beyond his complete comprehension while he follows his gifted son around Paris Fashion Week. In "Baseball," he considers what it means to share interests with your children, rather than impose them. These tidbits lead to a final essay that reveals the subtle scars behind his own relationship with his often distant pop, a relationship that Chabon will forever try to outrun as a father himself.
While much of the collection's subject matter could be heavy in tone, Chabon balances these weighty emotional moments with tenderness and light humor. Overall, the collection reads as a concise and breezy reflection on family life, offering insight and entertainment in even doses. Acknowledging that parenthood is not a sitcom subplot, Chabon doesn't shy away from the thornier conversations he's had with his children, recounting a conversation about race in "Tom" and a tutorial on feminism for his son in "Dicktitude." These essays don't offer simple right answers for being a role model (thank goodness), but rather engage with the difficulty in a adroit and gentle way. As a follow-up to Chabon's Moonglow, this collection continues the thread of fatherhood, expectation and masculine domesticity that enlightens so much of his best work. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor