Item description for Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon...
Overview A series of linked essays analyzes works of literature important to the author, argues for the importance of enjoying a diverse range of reading options, and explores the author's own writings from a perspective of personal history.
Michael Chabon's sparkling first book of nonfiction is a love song in 16 parts — a series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing, with subjects running from ghost stories to comic books, Sherlock Holmes to Cormac McCarthy. Throughout, Chabon energetically argues for a return to the thrilling, chilling origins of storytelling, rejecting the false walls around "serious" literature in favor of a wide-ranging affection. His own fiction, meanwhile, is explored from the perspective of personal history: post-collegiate desperation sparks his debut, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; procrastination and doubt reveal the way toward Wonder Boys; a love of comics and a basement golem combine to create the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; and an enigmatic Yiddish phrasebook unfurls into The Yiddish Policeman's Union.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 8.75" Weight: 1.25 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2008
ISBN 1932416897 ISBN13 9781932416893
Availability 0 units.
More About Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Summerland (a novel for children), The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and Gentlemen of the Road, as well as the short story collections A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth and the essay collections Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs. He is the chairman of the board of the MacDowell Colony. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
Michael Chabon currently resides in Berkeley, in the state of California.
Michael Chabon has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Maps and Legends?
Excellent Collection of Essays Jul 26, 2008
The work has some unique themes on comedy and other classic topics. A section covers the interesting life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle attended medical school. He had been poor as a child, although his grandfather was a successful artist. A comic section depicts Howard Chaykin's comic art.
Stories of Holmes center around the activities of sinister lodgers in board houses and/or people who lock up loved ones. The author tells of ghost story themes in unique genres like Balzac, Poe, Kipling and most early inventors. A Christmas Carol reference alludes to greed, pride and excess ambition.
The concept of a Golem is introduced. Golem is an artificial being with human-like characteristics made from clay or a mud-like substance. Linguistically, Golem is Hebrew for a lump brought to life by mystical means.
Overall, the presentation is unique. Perhaps, there are too many disparate themes in the book. Nonetheless, the presentation gets a good review .
Excellent Collection Jul 15, 2008
In my opinion, Michael Chabon is one of the elite writers of our time. I buy his books as soon as they come out, and usually I get very sad as I near the end, because he writes so well that I just want the story to go on forever. Maps and Legends is a collection of mostly previously published nonfiction that covers a whole range of ideas and topics. And it serves as a reminder of what good prose can do, no matter the genre.
The initial piece is likely the most famous, the strident defense of genre fiction that first appeared in issue 10 of McSweeney's. While I agree with much of Chabon's assertions about genre fiction, both in this essay and others, I think what seems to be missing is the obvious: good writing will/should trump genre conventions. While the writing of China Mieville may not be quite mainstream, it has a chance to break through because he writes so well. The reason that a lot of the pulp fiction of which Chabon is so fond gets no respect is because it honestly isn't all that good. However, his appeal that divisions in genre be eradicated and all fiction in the bookstore be shelved together makes some sense to me, and it is welcome to read.
Insightful essays on Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!, M.R. James, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have stuck with me, and I will have to read more by these authors in the near future. His review of Cormac McCarthy's The Road does so much more than review the book; it offers a perspective on apocalyptic fiction, and its place within literary fiction as opposed to science fiction.
In `Thoughts on the Death of Will Eisner,' Chabon shies away from listing accomplishments and hagiography, and instead focuses on the more overlooked aspect of Eisner's work: his savvy as a businessman. And his personal history with his first novel and his unfinished second novel make for compelling reads. In each case, his sharp and melodious prose make these essays seem like stories, yet one never gets the sense that Chabon's actual voice is lost to the voice of Chabon the narrator.
The book itself is beautifully produced as well. The cover contains a large gold `X' with the title printed across it, and Chabon's name sits at the top with the `O' a moon. Three dust jackets, each with a different magical scene are layered, creating a provocative scene individually and collectively. And the pages are acid free and quite thick, as most of the books published by McSweeney's are.
Though one may not always agree with the stances Chabon makes in these essays, Maps and Legends is required reading for any fan of genre fiction. Though he just published two novels last year, I can hardly wait for the next. If you haven't sampled his fiction, please do yourself a favor and pick up Wonder Boys, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, or Kavalier & Clay the next time you are at a bookstore. You won't be disappointed.
Chutzpah and Creativity Jul 4, 2008
A friend presented me with this gorgeous book as a gift, and I found myself drawn in by the artwork, the layout, the traditional book binding. I've only read one Chabon novel, and, although I enjoyed the style of writing immensely, I wasn't a big fan of the story itself. Here, Chabon gives us an entirely different thing: essays into the nature of art, literary criticism, genres, and the places from which writers draw inspiration.
"Maps and Legends" can hardly be considered mainstream nonfiction. It's appeal may be to his fans and to those who pine for the days of short stories and comics and highly-regarded genre fiction. There is no doubting the man's skill and passion, though. Publishers Weekly seems to have an ax of their own to grind by slamming this collection as a bitter diatribe from a Pulitzer-winning author. I felt very little of that "bitterness"; instead, I found a lot of nostalgic ruminations and words of wisdom. Some of it is cautionary, some humorous, and much of it autobiographical.
I have to thank Chabon for writing about something dear to his heart, despite the perceptions of jaded critics. I may not always agree with the man's ideas, or buy into his stories, but I cannot help but admire his chutzpah--even if he'd rather I just called it "courage."
A Real Pleasure and Incredibly Insightful Jul 4, 2008
Maps and Legends was both a real pleasure and incredibly insightful in a multitude of ways.
This nonfiction book by Michael Chabon, author of Wonderboys and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, offers a variety of essays that will assuredly please all readers.
That's not to say that all readers will love each and every one of the essays in this book, though. However, I know there is something for everyone to appreciate and even learn from in Maps and Legends.
Chabon essentially covers four broad topics in this collection. He expends great energy discussing trends and personalities in comic books, the art of writing, various aspects of literature, and his own diverse influences and personal background.
Since these are four topics that I'm very interested in as well, I loved almost every single essay.
Chabon is such an interesting man. The idea that a Pulitzer Prize-winning author takes the time to lament the death of Will Eisner, acknowledge the brilliance of Howard Chaykin, analyze McCarthy's The Road, and reveal deeply personal secrets (some even real) from his own life all within one collection, it's just a pure joy for someone like me to experience.
However, I think the most valuable thing I learned from Chabon in his book is that the term "genre" in literature is not a naughty word. He analyzes the importance of genre, especially in relation to the short story, and disparages the fact that people's snobbery towards genre is actively executing the short story.
Furthermore, Chabon is utterly transparent in the essays involving his life, so transparent he even reveals he has lied to us and could be lying at any given moment. That sort of honesty about deception is a breath of fresh air.
If you're a fan of comic books, the art of writing, or Michael Chabon himself, I really encourage you to give this book a try. I think you'll be pleased with what you read.
~Scott William Foley, author of The Imagination's Provocation: Volume I: A Collection of Short Stories
Chabon fans should not hesitate. Jun 17, 2008
I was previously unfamiliar with most of the topics discussed in this collection but found that Chabon's love of genre fiction rubbed off on me at least a little bit. This is a good collection and a worthwhile one for all Chabon fans.