A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son

Algonquin. Sept. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781616209117. $24.95. SOC SCI
In this extended letter to his college-bound son, author and comedian Black (You’re Not Doing It Right) offers advice for navigating adulthood and masculinity, toxic or otherwise. Black combines humor and seriousness throughout—he uses humor when examining what it means to “be a man,” but he also shows a side that is serious and vulnerable, drawing from his childhood experiences and giving advice on navigating complex gender issues as a young adult. Black expected his father to pass on the “secrets” of becoming a man, but he lost his father at a young age, and was forced to make sense of masculinity on his own. He reflects on the challenges of parenting and the limitations of protecting one’s child. He tackles clichés, such as the idea that men should never ask for help or show emotion, and he reassuringly urges his son to be himself.
VERDICT Both thoughtful and lighthearted, this work will appeal to anyone interested in masculinity and modern gender roles.

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