McSweeney’s
In shops on 1 May

Puliter Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”) brings us his first work of non-fiction in this collection of essays about reading and writing, but mostly about reading.  The book starts with an essay about the modern short story, which segues into his thoughts on fiction in general and in particular, genre fiction, as Chabon takes us through what he calls the bookstore ghetto where Science Fiction lives in a separate neighborhood from Romance, which likewise lives in a separate neighborhood from Mystery, etc.  Chabon maintains that only established writers can break through these barriers and end up in the Literature section regardless of their genre.  Chabon can arguably be credited as this generation’s greatest writer of genre fiction, often working many genres into his novels.  In the essays that follow, he further explores his theory by using examples from Nabakov, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman to Cormac McCarthy, and many others.  As someone who has read all of Michael Chabon’s novels and many of his short stories, it was fun to read about the inspirations and ideas that go into his books; even an essay about Norse Mythology, gives one insight into his Young Adults tome “Summerland”.  The latter essays in the book are more specifically about Chabon’s own novels, and thematically tie very nicely into the earlier essays.  I’m not sure that this book is a “must read” for anyone unfamiliar with Chabon’s work or anyone uninterested in the writing process, but if you are an avid reader like me, it will certainly give you a solid list of books and authors to check out in the future.   In the meantime, I await Chabon’s next great novel.