Friday, February 24, 2012

Writer Michael Chabon

I've been enjoying his work for some time, but was prompted to write this post after rereading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

A good book (its Pulitzer is a hint in that direction maybe), but I'll admit it didn't really "get" me on first reading.  Or, more truthfully (because I did race through its pages doing nothing else until I finished it), I didn't really "get" it.

There is a lot in The Amazing Adventures, more levels, more sediment of... I hardly know what all, more than I expected or even wanted at that first reading.  I anticipated a sort of swashbuckler with comic book heroes, I think.  Comic book heroes are a major component, yes, but that's like saying flour determines the nature of cake - or pancakes - and then you're handed a plate of layer-flaky pastry, sticky with honey, rich with nuts, with a name that hints at ancient places and camel-caravans of spices through the Mysterious East and, at the same time, of the Mom-n-Pop convenience store down the street where there is a sticky tinfoil plate with stickier plastic wrap pulled tight over homemade squares of sweetness on sale for the PTA.


Chabon's writing has that effect on me: afterwards the mundane is edged with an aura of the extraordinary.  He can write a novel with a comix title that somehow mixes bland '50s suburban marriage, super heroes, secret lives, magic and escapist skills, the south pole, the Holocaust, the love of a boy for his dad, surrealism, scholarship, closeted sexuality... into a silt as evocative as that formed into the Golem of Prague.

Cover for The Amazing Adventures, borrowed

All Chabon's work has this evocative, nostalgic quality.  His grocery lists must be interesting to read -  everything else he writes is.  Look for his essays and short stories, as well as his novels.  My favorite is probably Summerland, a "young-adult" novel of the sort you return to all your life.  (If you find an audio version read aloud by the author, grab it!)

Last words:  I'm teased by a relationship between Chabon's writing and Neil Gaiman's... still puzzling that out.  Oh, and HERE's an earlier post on Chabon's essay collection Maps & Legends.   Another about Chabon's Summerland, Gaiman's Neverwhere, and other stories HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment