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How Boys Learn, by Jeff Kirchick

“Good fiction humanizes other people for us. Jeff Kirchick writes about the boys we all envied or pretended to dismiss-the star athletes, the handsome straight guys, the respected Ivy League graduates, the men with two parents, both kind and supportive and prosperous-and shows these paragons from the inside, their fears, their vulnerabilities, their sensitivity, their loves and their coming to terms with mortality, their own and that of others. Most writers are losers; it’s something new to hear about the inner life of a winner.” – Edmund White

In today’s world, young men grapple with concepts like “toxic masculinity” that often lead to self-doubt and aimlessness. Such ideologies can push them toward negative influences online or unproductive behaviors. How Boys Learn by Jeff Kirchick presents a different perspective, delving into the nuanced journeys boys navigate. These stories offer insight into friendships, relationships, sexuality, and the quest to become better individuals.

Kirchick’s collection captures diverse experiences: from a conflicted teenage wrestler in rural Pennsylvania to a postwar society designed to curb “bad ideas,” and a doctor’s encounters with family and an unusual patient. Love is the overarching theme, whether it’s the characters’ connections with others or their pursuit of self-love.

Originally penned in 2010 under the guidance of esteemed author Edmund White at Princeton University, these tales have been refined for a wider audience. Kirchick’s aim is to impart lessons on struggle, humanity, and discovering love in unexpected corners. How Boys Learn invites readers to explore the complexities of growing up and finding love amid life’s challenges.

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