Wimpy White Guys With Microsoft Word

I noticed a nice MAID-ish resonance today that I wanted to pass on. Michael Berube, a lit professor I once profiled in the Advocate, refers to Jamie’s singer/songwriter friend Larry Gallagher in a post on his blog today. Berube writes:

One year ago today I was having one of the better times of my life. I was in northern California, attending the wedding ceremony of my old friend Larry Gallagher, whom I’d met in college and with whom I’d played some fine music back in the day, and Catherine Shaddix, whom he’d met back in the more recent (mid-90s) day at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. It was a thoroughly Buddhist ceremony—nothing wasted, everything fun, very moving vows, and a hilarious discussion afterwards about whether the Vipassana ideal of lovingkindness wasn’t too difficult for us mere humans to achieve (and, relatedly, whether it was a bad idea to have a belief system in which one was constantly weighed in one’s own scales and found wanting, what with all those “hindrances” in the way) and whether Buddhists might not be better off with a more realistic outlook that involved 80 percent lovingkindness and 20 percent revenge.

Later in the post, Berube makes reference to “Wimpy White Guys with Guitars,” the only song that has already secured a track on the forthcoming Masculinity and Its Discontents: The Soundtrack, which will slide out of the book jacket of Man-ifesto, the debut release from our publishing arm, Third Leg Books, which will be one leg of the tripod that will constitute our multimedia multinational masculine empire, Men Gone Wild Inc.

Berube is worth mentioning, also, because he’s out there at the frontiers of our chosen genre: straight male political-literary memoir. He’s a literary critic, so the majority of his writing is academic, but a lot of his academic work has memoiristic elements, and one of his books, Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child, is about raising a son with Down’s Syndrome. Publisher’s Weekly describes it thusly:

The twofold purpose of this impassioned reportage by the parent of a child with Down’s syndrome is eloquently achieved by Berube ? First, he paints a clear picture of his beloved son, Jamie, and of the first four years of his obstacle-strewn life; second, he thoughtfully raises difficult questions "about our obligations to each other individually and socially, and about our capacity to imagine other people." Berube’s investigation into the contradictory social effects evoked by clinical procedures in utero, genetic testing and the whole concept of "disabled" children parallels the poignant, intimate chronicle of how he, his wife (also a Ph.D.) and older son cope with the challenge of raising Jamie, whom he describes as "gradually emerging, like a slowly developing Polaroid of a child, into a vivid and indelible creature with a sense of humor." Berube, a professor of English at the University of Illinois, frames advocacy and righteous anger with wry humor. In doing so, he accomplishes the difficult feat of combining an extraordinarily personal narrative with an intelligent, knowledgeable discussion of public issues raised by his private experience.

It’s really on his blog that Berube does the work of narrativizing and theorizing his life. He writes about being a dad a fair amount. He writes about being a teacher. He writes about playing hockey. He’s not as confessional as Jamie and I are –- he could be paruretic, for instance, but you wouldn’t read about it on his blog –- and he’s not writing within an explicitly masculinist frame, but he’s definitely an ally in some broad sense.

Worth a link, at the very least, though perhaps MAID should hold off on giving him one until Jamie and I decide upon a satisfactory link classification system. Is he a Barkley, or a Mraz, or some combination of the two? Or is there something embarrassingly co-ed-naked-t-shirt-esque about grouping men into such types? And if so, does that mean that I haven’t left my co-ed naked t-shirt silkscreening tendencies as far back in the past as I’d like to believe?

Author: Masculinity and Its Discontents

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