Masculinity, we are often told, is in crisis. The narrator of Men and Apparitions, Professor Ezekiel (Zeke) Stark, both studies this crisis and personally confirms it. ‘I came naturally — haha — to observing my posse and me, guys late twenties to forty, and our attitudes to women, ourselves as “men,” etc’ he says, by way of introduction to his anthropological thesis about growing up under feminism. Prepare for mansplaining littered with tedious verbal tics, which is oddly compelling to read.
Zeke is between things. Born on the cusp of Gen X, a middle child to middle-class parents, he’s loitering on the tenure track of East Coast ‘Acadoomia’. There’s his Mother, an editor, who never loved Father, ‘a condescending asshole’, Brother Hart, a bully, and Little Sister, a ‘selectively mute’ fan of Virginia Woolf, who also kills herself.