Sunday, October 6, 2013

Michael Chabon

No, Michael Chabon never came to my Library. But all his books have been here at one time or another. And they always seemed like just the sort I might like. So I've tried reading them, one after the other. I might even have finished Summerland, but without relish, and with a feeling of how it could have been better. I loved the movie of Wonder Boys and yet somehow never finished that book, though a description he has in there of addictive reading sticks with me from it to this day. And that's just it. It's not just the fresh, edging up into genre approach that appeals to me, but there's always something in the writing, somewhere, that gets something just right to me. And so I keep at it.

At my house we are now reading Manhood for Amateurs, by that same Michael Chabon. It is a collection of essays and, so far, I am seriously enjoying it. I might, all along, have been waiting for Michael Chabon essays. It is a real pleasure to find them. But there is also something just a tiny bit disturbing to me in them. They remind me of me, and of my writing, and of what I would write, only, well (suddenly my stomach kind of hurts), they're better.

Not long ago I became enthusiastically acquainted with the music of The Tallest Man on Earth. I mentioned it to a friend of mine, who I will not name because I'm weary of Marcus coming up in so many examples of things here lately, and this unnamed person who is definitely not Marcus yet again, looked ever so slightly pained, like he just remembered he had a toothache. It turned out there was something a bit too similar in what he was trying to do in music to what The Tallest Man was doing. He seemed to admire The Tallest Man, but his music also seemed to create a bit of feedback that made it hard for him to enjoy.

That's a bit of what I hear in Michael Chabon, a bit of feedback. But I kind of like it. Yes, it's not all roses, and forcing myself to use a word like "better" in reference to him is a bit like firmly grasping the thorn infested stem. But getting to see something similar, in some ways, to my own kind of writing, from the outside, as a pure reader, is really interesting. There is also something strangely nice about wandering over to the Amazon reviews and seeing a full range of opinions (about a quarter of them are three stars and lower) on what to me are just irrefutably (so far) really terrific essays. There are places where the perfidy of others can be helpful. A theoretical blog post by Michael Chabon might not get as high a percentage of disinterested readers as my own, but certainly we could happily share a core group of readers running for the hills by the third paragraph.  Also, I occasionally go out on feverish searches for blogs that are at least sort of like mine, mostly just because I want to read them, but I never have much success. I have so little success that I sometimes worry that I am competitively braced against them. I fear that maybe I secretly don't want to give up on feeling all that uniqueness. So going out and finding these essays allows me to just say "This is all I'm talking about." Of course, they're by a Pulitzer prize winner, so the matter can't be said to be fully resolved.

There are a few reasons I started writing this blog. Perhaps the biggest one is best referenced by a quote by Toni Morrison “It there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” I don't think Michael Chabon erases that. It surely isn't my book that he's written, but it is some of what I want. Which is nice. And this, right here, is some of what I want too. Just telling you about it. There's room enough. The world is big.

1 comment:

  1. It's so strange that I am reading this blog (& have been for the last hour or so). I was just thinking about how you are writing the blogs that I once wrote (& have since deleted), or blogs I should have written. But you are doing it better. Thank you.


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