Results tagged “Michael Chabon” from kwc blog

I went to the Barnes and Noble in San Jose tonight to listen to Michael Chabon read from his latest novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Chabon followed his Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay with a young adult/children's fantasy novel, Summerland, and then a Sherlock Holmes homage, The Final Solution. His latest novel jumps into the hardboiled detective/noir genre with a alternate history novel that imagines that Alaska was settled as the new Jewish homeland after World War II -- something that was considered at the time. Chabon read us a chapter, intermixing yiddish crime slang (gun = shalom/peace/'piece') and channeling Raymond Chandler along the way (and doing his best to ignore the many Barnes and Noble interruptions).

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Introduction and Reading:

I took the Q&A as an opportunity to research parakkum's Chabon/Spiderman 2/Spiderman 3 theory. Chabon was a writer for the excellent Spiderman 2 but was absent from Spiderman 3 credits. I boiled this down to, "Spiderman 2: great movie. Spiderman 3: sucked... why didn't you save it?" To his credit, it sounds like Chabon saved Spiderman 2. Chabon mentioned that Spiderman 2 was originally going to have Doc Oct, the Lizard, Black Cat, and Harry Osborn/GG2 as supervillains. Chabon's draft focused it down on just Doc Oct. Chabon was eventually fired from the production, but they kept the focus on Doc Oct. If only they remembered for Spiderman 3 -- it was perhaps the pull of merchandising/Happy Meal tie-ins.

Q&A:

Q&A index: * "How long did he spend it Sitka?" * "Did he read a lot of alternative history?" (2:00) * "What's the status of the Kavalier and Clay movie?" (5:45) -- not quite as dead as vaudeville * "Does he know where his books are going when they start?" (7:00) -- not really * "What American crime writers inspired him?" (9:25) * "What was his inspiration to write Summerland for younger readers?" (11:00) -- he has four children * "Why did he choose the particular passage he read?" (12:41) -- he was tired of reading the other passages * "Did he use authentic yiddish words in his book?" (13:19) -- he had the idea of writing the novel in yiddish in his mind and simultaneously translating it into English (doesn't know why he thought he could do that). Shalom = peace = piece = gun * "How much research did he do for Kavalier and Clay?" (15:24) * "Why didn't he save Spiderman 3?" (17:04) * "How much of the character of Peter in the Mommy-Track Mysteries (his wife Ayelet Waldman's book) is him?" (19:27) * "What books has he enjoyed recently" (20:38)

Spiderman 2 vs. Spiderman 3 question:

Side note: tonight's event made me much more appreciative of Keplers and the like. Between the intercom interruptions, crying babies (it was held in the kid's section), flushing toilet, and employees accessing the stock room behind, it was hard to stay focused. I mentioned the Keplers sentiment to a fellow attendee on the way out -- he pulled back his jacket to show his Keplers' employee t-shirt beneath (FYI: Berkely Breathed will be at Keplers).

It seems a bit hackneyed to complain that a collection of original short stories is uneven at best. We don't expect every author to be firing on all cylinders with their contributions. However, with a unifying theme of "Thrilling Tales," with Michael Chabon editing and with short stories by Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King, and Dave Eggers, I had higher expectations. It is strange, then, that it was none of these authors that delivered my favorite stories of the collection. That title would go to Glen David Gold's "The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter," Rick Moody's "The Albertine Notes," and Elmore Leonard's "How Carlos Webster Changed His Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman." I thought Gaiman's and Hornby's were entertaining, but not great, King's was only interesting to Dark Tower fan, Chabon's was only an introductory chapter of a serial, and Egger's, while good, is burgeoning with the "epiphanic dew" that Chabon rants against in the collection's introduction. The collection has a sequal, Astonishing Tales, which I may pick up, but with more selective reading.

I stopped by Kepler's today to visually confirm that the doors are shut, with a note of closing and 'Declaration of Independents.' The store is not emptied out, just closed, but unless this is some clever negotiation tactic it appears that Dealers of Lightning and Phaidon's Louis Kahn book will have been my last purchases there. Having Keplers next to Cafe Borrone was a big incentive for taking the leisurely route home, stopping to read a book over dinner. After finishing my first David Sedaris book while eating dinner at Cafe Borrone, I went over to Keplers, picked up another Sedaris book, and finished the same night while eating even more Borrone food. Good cafe/bookstore pairings are hard to replace: one feeds the other.

Neil Gaiman's journal confirms that his Keplers talk is cancelled, as I imagine all others are as well, but he mentions two other places in the Bay Area he will be speaking (one with Michael Chabon):

Thursday, September 29 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman in Conversation
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-0960

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO and BAY AREA
September 30, 7 PM PDT
Cody's
at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way at Dana
Berkeley, CA
510-845-7852
(See http://www.codysbooks.com/ for details of the event)

This is a wonderful book. As a comic book reader, I'm biased towards a story that uses the Golden Age (aetataureate) of comics as a backdrop for the story of the two cousins, Kavlier and Clay. Chabon makes excellent use of analogies between the cousins, their comic book stories, and world events as a tool for character development.

The book does have a high level of diction, at least to a illiterate fool like me, so I have made use of the extended entry to annotate some of the words/phrases that I had to lookup/translate. I felt more relieved at my ignorance when I discovered that at least one of the words was one that Chabon had made up (aetataureate). Nevertheless, the book is still remarkably easy to read. You never feel weighed down as the story gracefully moves you forward, assembling the strong character arcs Chabon has laid out.

My last comment before the extended entry is that there are too many unintentional parallels between my reading choices recently, which I blame all on Foucault's Pendulum. What are the chances that I would read two books that use Jewish tradition/kabbala, Superman, and World War II Europe? Honestly. At least there are no templars in this one (or so the templars would have me believe).

Update: Just found out on Newarama that Escapist #1 is due on the shelves in February. I'm hoping the image on Newsarama isn't the cover for #1, because it would be a shame to not try and recreate the Escapist punching Hitler cover that Chabon describes in the novel.