The Pulitzer Prize–winning author goes his own way writing about some of his favorite books and comics.
Chabon (Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, 2018, etc.) eagerly returns to the beloved genres of his youth in this joyous collection covering nearly 20 years of introductions, prefaces, forewords, and afterwords to adventure tales, sci-fi, ghost stories, comic books, and his own books, all written in the “hope of bringing pleasure to the reader—to some reader, somewhere.” He confesses he read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth at least five or six times. Though it didn’t make him want to be a writer—that came later with Arthur Conan Doyle—Juster’s “world of wonders” still gives him a “tiny thrill of nostalgia and affection for the wonderful book.” Stop “reading this nonsense,” he chides, and go read the book. That advice reflects a common theme in this collection: Chabon, the fan, urging readers to read these stories. He firmly believes M.R. James’ ghost story, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” is one of the “finest short stories ever written.” He confesses that the “splendor and fragility” of Ray Bradbury’s story “The Rocket Man,” which Chabon first read when he was 10, was the “most important short story in my life as a writer.” Bradbury “gave me my first everlasting lessons in literary style.” Chabon waxes euphoric about the “remarkable artistic achievement” of Michael Moorcock’s heroic fantasy, The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, as he does about Howard Chaykin, the “craftsman, an artisan of pop,” and his experiments in comic book art. There are two pieces about Chabon’s abandoned, early “disaster,” Fountain City, one on Summerland, and one on The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and discovering his need to write in “traditional, bourgeois narrative form.” The author closes with a couple liner notes about Mark Ronson and the Pittsburgh “post-punk” band Carsickness.
Eclectic, exuberant fandom from Chabon.