Author Joel Stein and his Stupid Quest for Masculinity
When Time Magazine journalist, Joel Stein found out he was about to become a father to a baby boy, panic set in. Feeling a bit outside his element in the typical “manly” sense, Joel embarked on a quest which turned into his first book: Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity.
Man Made is great Joel Stein’s non-fiction adventure of quests to achieve ‘manliness’—from a twenty-four-hour shift with L.A. firefighters, to day-trading with $100K, to jumping in the ring with UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Joel explores it all!
With Father’s Day just around the corner, Kobo got a chance to sit down with the author to find out what he learned on his testosterone-filled journey.
Kobo: You mention your son as being the reason for starting this quest; do you now feel more prepared to help him become a man?
JS: I actually do. I’m definitely going to take him camping, and that’s something I wouldn’t have done before I [went] a couple of times in the book. I’m going to show him a mixed martial arts class when he’s six and see if he’s into it; at the very least just watching one will make him less freaked out by that world. Most importantly: We’re going to fix stuff around the house together. This will greatly help him with women. And maybe with his house. But definitely with women.
Kobo: What would be your top 5 tips for soon-to-be dads who are unable to embark on a similar quest?
JS: Are their men as stupid as I am? I do not want to meet them. I’d tell them to try to put aside any notions of their identity and their abilities and push beyond their comfort zone and see how they do. Much of what I accomplished really surprised me. Like that I’m not dead from this.
Kobo: What were the easiest and hardest parts of your journey?
JS: Driving a Lamborghini for 3 days was very, very easy. Although I forgot that we converted our garage and I’ve have to park it on the street, which was very nerve racking. The hardest part was the three days of Army boot camp at Fort Knox. But it was also the most rewarding. That’s the lesson of the book. You have to do stuff if you want to change.
Kobo: Will you prepare yourself in a similar way if you ever have a daughter?
JS: No. I’ve been to the American Girl Cafe for lunch. With another guy. For a business meeting. To get in his head. I can handle all the girl stuff. And the lemonade at the American Girl Cafe is delicious.
Kobo: Besides having a better understanding of what it means to be a man, do you think you now understand better what it means to be a father?
JS: Yes, because after UFC hall-of-famer beat me up during our one round in the ring he told me something my own dad told me – that trying to force your kid into becoming what you think he should be is a fool’s errand. They have their own personality and desires, and you can only expose them to things that might capture their interest. My goal as a father now is to try to expand my son’s world to be as big as it can be.
Kobo: What books (besides yours) would you recommend for our readers who want to be man-made?
JS: AJ Jacobs’ new book, Drop Dead Healthy, about a wimp like me pushing himself physically to get in shape. Neil Strauss’ Emergency, about a former wimp turned survivalist. Andy Borowitz’ An Unexpected Twist, which is a really short eBook about almost suddenly dying of a twisted colon. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, because that was one driven, focused man.
Check out Joel’s complete list of Top 10 recommend reads that helped him complete his quest for masculinity:
- Emergency by Neil Strauss
- The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph by Shawn Green
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- The Old Man and the Swamp by John Sellers
- Half a Life by Darin Strauss
- Early Bird by Rodney Rothman
- Paper Lion by George Plimpton
- The Twelve Labours of Hercules by Anonymous
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
- The Odyssey by Homer