The Savage Detectives update: I am definitely going to finish this one, just a part at a time. Not sure why but that is just how it’s going to be.
April 2015 was the month of Michael Chabon. I had just finished the first part of The Savage Detectives and the month was almost half over. I needed content so I looked to my bookshelf to find three short beauties by Mr. Chabon and decided to go for it. I also figured I would toss in a re-read of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as it had been a while and who doesn’t like revisiting a classic every now and again?
Maps & Legends by Michael Chabon
This is must read for Chabon fans but also for people who enjoy gleaning insights from writers about writing and the behind the scenes machinations of the writing process. The first essay, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights” delves into the idea of short story writers and writers in general as entertainers. Chabon writes about genre and how it can play both a positive and negative role in how stories are presented. What I loved was that his ideas echoed that of Hornby from his collection that inspired this column. As Hornby said, genre and mainstream versus alternative is simply just many people liking something versus only a select few and that writers, through no fault of their own, can be put into categories that were never thought of when they were sloughing through that first draft.
My other favourite from this one is “My Back Pages” where Chabon talks about writing The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. It’s a great read about a writer coming of age while writing what some consider to be his finest work.
Mentioned also is his love for comic books and a quick connection of dots brings you to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, once again giving insight, background, and context to another one of Chabon’s great books.
The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
This was a lot different than what I expected. The writing isn`t typical Chabon and at first I was questioning the effort. After the first two chapters, once the plot took hold, I was sold but it was a bit of a tough go out of the gate. It was a quick read though and a fun little story that features the world`s most famous detective in his later years putting his wits to good work.
A Model World by Michael Chabon
This first part deals with separate characters and separate stories all with the common theme of discovery. Highlights were S ANGEL and Smoke, the latter because it dealt with professional baseball players and I love baseball!
The second part of the story was entertaining but also a lesson in writing short fiction pieces with the same characters much like Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. I have been thinking of doing something similar for my next project and got a first-hand tutorial from one of my favourite writers without expecting it.