The Atlantic

The Art of Parenthood

New books by Sheila Heti and Michael Chabon explore the claims of family-making, and of writing.
Source: Leah Walker / Sarah Lee / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic

“I’m going to give you some advice,” a famous writer once told the young Michael Chabon. “Don’t have children. That’s it. Do not.” Chabon recalls this episode in his new book, Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, a slim collection of essays whose title reveals that he was not swayed by the somber warning. He went on to have four children and write 14 books. “Should there be 18?” he asks, thinking of a saying attributed to the novelist Richard Yates: “You lose a book for every child.” Even for a writer who has combined parenthood with creative success, the notion lingers that there is something deeply incompatible about the two roles. After all, a parent is morally obligated to put his or her children first, to do anything for their sake, while an artist is supposed to give the same kind of dedication to his or her work.

suggests a way out of the dilemma: Writing a book

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