Michael Chabon is the author of two collections of short stories, `A Model World' and `Werewolves in their Youth', the novels `The Mysteries of Pittsburgh', `Wonder Boys', `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', `The Yiddish Policemen's Union' and `Telegraph Avenue', and the non-fiction books `Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs'. `Wonder Boys' has been made into a film starring Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. and `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and their four children.
You would hardly think, reading Chabon's new book of essays, that he won the Pulitzer Prize for a book about comics. Rather, he is bitter and defensive about his love for genre fiction such as mysteries and comic books. Serious writers, he says, cannot venture into these genres without losing credibility. "No self-respecting literary genius... would ever describe him- or herself as primarily an `entertainer,' " Chabon writes. "An entertainer is a man in a sequined dinner jacket, singing `She's a Lady' to a hall filled with women rubber-banding their underwear up onto the stage." Chabon devotes most of the essays to examining specific genres that he admires, from M.R. James's ghost stories to Cormac McCarthy's apocalyptic work, The Road. The remaining handful of essays are more memoir-focused, with Chabon explaining how he came to write many of his books. Chabon casts himself as one of the few brave souls willing to face ridicule-from whom isn't entirely clear, though it seems to be academics-to write as he wishes. "I write from the place I live: in exile," he says. It's hard to imagine the audience for this book. Chabon seems to want to debate English professors, but surely only his fellow comic-book lovers will be interested in his tirade. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Praise for Michael Chabon:`Poignant, affecting, witty, wrenching, a terrific writer.' Washington Post`The natural exuberance and extravagance of Chabon's writing is matched by dazzling wit.' Sunday Telegraph`His talent is undisputable. Chabon's novels are warm, witty, a little whimsical, always beautifully written. He is that rare and precious beast: a literary writer with crossover appeal...'GQ`Chabon is a language magician, turning everything into something else just for the delight of playing tricks with words...Chabon's ornate prose makes (Raymond) Chandler's fruity observations of the world look quite plain...He writes like a dream' Guardian'He is the most wonderful vaudeville performer.' Philip Hensher, in the Spectator `Books of the Year'
In his first work of nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) tells readers of some of the books that have helped shape his writing career. Among his loves: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Philip Roth's Goodbye, Columbus, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and various comic strips and ghost stories. Chabon argues that there's a place for both high and low art in literature and that what really makes a reader is a love for the story. Chabon's 16 essays are seemingly organized from the least personal ("Trickster in a Suit of Lights, Thoughts on the Modern Short Story") to the most personal ("Golems I Have Known; Or, Why My Elder Son's Middle Name Is Napoleon") and argue the merits of reading, writing, and storytelling, breaking down the barriers between so-called genre writing and "serious" literature. Affectionate and funny; a welcome and necessary addition to all collections.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.