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07 July 2009


Chabon is one of my favorites, but there is no point continuing on an author who isn't working for you. My case is John Irving who I cannot stand.

Policeman's Union is a tough one. The literary types all bought it, but it is Chabon's ode to the genre novel (both scifi and crime) and I think it befuddled them.

I really loved Kavalier and Clay. Reading it was like falling into a well; I would pause for a break and sorta forget where I was for a minute. I do seem to remember it took me a couple of chapters to get into it, though.

I know you and Brandon over at Bookstorm really love him; that's part of the reason I kept trying him. I was about to ponder whether he appeals more to male readers than female, but then Jessica (below) jumped in and ruined my theory. So yup. It's probably just me.

I know, man, I have tried that novel so many times. It's just never going to happen. Chabon and Jeffrey Eugenides are two authors that I'm just NEVER GOING TO LIKE. I might as well accept it and move on. But I feel like the literati reading crowd won't accept me unless I like one of those guys!

Distract them by liking someone else. Ian McEwan perhaps?

Mmmmmm Ian McEwan. Done, and done!

Yeah, I don't like him, either. He's like the anti-Hemingway: same number of thoughts per book, four times as many words. Before I gave up on belonging to book groups, I forced myself through Kavalier and Clay, promising myself that I'd surely start to like it at some point, since it was about superheroes and gay people; talk about a winning formula. Amazingly, it never happened.

I'm glad his writing is out there, it really has some strong points, but he's not my stylistic cup of tea.

Love McEwan. In fact I'm sort of obsessing on him right now.

Chabon rules. End of story. And anyone who disagrees can take a leap into the ocean, sans floatation.

Okay, I'm only half kidding. I can see why you wouldn't like "Kavalier & Clay." That's a monster of a book.

I think part of Chabon's--I don't know what to call it, unappeal?--is that you can't really shoehorn him. When he gets done with comics, he writes a children's book. When he's done with that, he writes a sci-fi/detective novel. When he's done with that, he turns in a nonfiction book. Just look at his books. He's never written the same thing twice. Seriously, he's all over the place. Thing is, you never know what you're getting with him. Most authors work because they have a formula; I bet if you looked at a paragraph by Roth, or McEwan, or DeLillo, you'd be able to match the paragraph to the author. Chabon, you really couldn't do that, because he has no formula. You mentioned the cover to "TYPU." I rest my case. I'd heard it won a bunch of sci-fi awards, so I went into it thinking, "Spaceships, aliens, time-travel." Nope. In fact, I hesitate to call it sci-fi. It's a fucking detective story! If anything, it should've been up for an Edgar or something along those lines, not the Nebula.

Look, here's why I enjoy Chabon: the guy is just fucking COOL. I read his stuff and I picture him as the kind of guy who drives the badass muscle car, smokes good dope with you, and takes you to the awesomest party ever. He's like the guy with the coolest music collection, the coolest comics, the coolest everything.

Another thing: I think some people just think too much about Chabon. He may be considered literary, which makes people want to put on their thinking caps, but that's not the case. His brand is closer to pop fiction than anything else. He's not stupid like Koontz or Baldacci, but he won't break your brain like Pynchon or something. Chabon isn't sending out subliminal messages or burying archetypes and symbolism within his work. He's not showing off. He's just telling stories. And that's his point in the paragraph you quoted. He could show off if he wanted to, but he won't sacrifice story or entertainment just to show how big his brain is. He's really a literary author for Everyman: just smart enough that you'll listen to him, but not so brainy that he becomes a nerd and loses you. Pynchon, the nerd, hides from everyone; you can picture Chabon having a social life and a job, just like anyone else.

That's just my three bucks. If you don't like him, that's cool.

Are you kidding about the "sans flotation" part? :) You really mean that, don't you?

I think your response to this post rules. I am glad you like Chabon, and, if you'll note, I do think it's just not my cuppa--I do think the man can string a sentence and a paragraph together, and for that I appreciate him. Ditto on the writing all over the map--something I'm traditionally very fond of.

I do sometimes wonder what Chabon's and his wife's (writer Ayelet Waldman) household looks like, and how they get all that writing done. I get a charge out of Ayelet, actually, who took some heat for once saying that sometimes she loves her kids more than she loves him. Which I think was just honest and thoughtful, myself. I'm pretty sure she did qualify it with the "sometimes."

Thanks for the three bucks. Have you read his "Gentlemen of the Road" yet? Seems like you might like it.

You and I are PEEPS man. I have never felt the Chabon love.

Zia, my long-lost sister! I knew we were peeps when you disliked that stupid "Tomato Girl" book. Let's never read Chabon again, 'k?

I've got Chabon-love, but can't warm up to Eugenides, though.

I've really got no problem with anyone who has the Chabon-love. But I am glad not to be alone on feeling "meh" about Eugenides!!

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