Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity: By Joel Stein

Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity
By Joel Stein
(Grand Central Publishing)

I think the fact that columnist Joel Stein questioned his manliness enough to write “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity” in the first place is pretty damn manly (the fact that I had many of the same self-doubts about my own non-sports watching, can’t take a punch, indoorsy self could make me a tad bit biased though).

The non-fiction “Man Made” begins with Time magazine columnist Stein realizing he is about to have a son, an event that triggers a lifetime of self-doubt about whether or not he stands up to society’s view of what a dude should and should not be. The inner reflection pushes Stein to an admittedly contrived, but wildly entertaining collection of stunts that he puts himself through. He starts off small: camping with a group of Boy Scouts (quite possibly the funniest chapter in the book) before moving on to working a shift with firefighters, going hunting with an old flame’s husband, undergoing an abbreviated boot camp with the Marines and Army before finally working his way up to going around in the octagon with the UFC’s Randy Couture.

Like his columns, Stein fills “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity” with plenty of snark and self-deprecation, but there are also peeks of vulnerability in detailing his own childhood. All and all, a pretty manly affair from cover to cover.