What is it about the domestic American Male? As a species, he is not rare. To the contrary, he is among the most common of beasts. He is not beautiful, does not have fantastic colors or habits. He is, in fact, anti-exotic. There is nothing about him that is of particular interest, which is to say he is flatly pedestrian. I should know, I am one. Yet, along comes another one, a domestic American Male, and writes a book about it, about whatever вЂњitвЂќ is. Someone deems it worthy of publishing and others support that decision by buying the book and reading it. And even, like here, a few choose to write about it. ItвЂ™s sort of like Rembrandt and later, Rockwell, looking in a mirror as they paint themselves. And me taking a picture of it all, and then all of us looking at it. Really, is it all that interesting? Yes, it is.MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS, is a rich study, worthy of the complex and illusive creature it tracks.
Set in Australia, AFTER THE FIRE, A STILL SMALL VOICE, skillfully tracks two narratives, each struggling to escape fateful trajectories. One, the story of Leon, traces his arrival on the continent, the child of European immigrants in the 1950s. Leon, his mother and father set up a pastry shop in Sydney turning out tarts and cakes. They live well, until, that is, his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. He returns shattered and broken, and so LeonвЂ™s world is ruptured. An irreconcilable course is set and years later Leon is conscripted as a machine gunner in Vietnam. There he realizes a nascent thirst for violence which will shadow him presumably the rest of his days.