Chabon Discusses Bay Area’s Literary Scene

The Wall Street Journal today has a nice Q&A with Michael Chabon discussing what it’s like to live and write in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, which along with playing host to Chabon also is home to Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, and Terry McMillan. Chabon calls it a “very vibrant and fun and collegial scene.” Chabon lives in Berkeley, Calif. with his wife, Ayelet Waldman.

“There are all sorts of social events that occur that allow a very fluid communication between people,” he tells the WSJ. “Part of the collegiality comes from how there is an interconnectedness among the different institutions that put on literary events.”

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Chabon Discusses Next Book

More details about Michael Chabon’s next novel leaked out during a talk he gave Monday in San Francisco.

During the Q&A session, Chabon said he was writing a “naturalistic” novel about two families in Berkeley, author Frances Dinkelspiel wrote on her blog. Dinelspiel speculates that Chabon’s previous writings on Berkeley may suggest what themes may appear in the book, including suburban homogenization.

Chabon previously has said the novel would be set in and around the contemporary Bay Area. “I would like to get a new novel going,” Chabon said during a chat hosted by The Washington Post in 2007. “I would like it to be set in the present day and feel right now the urge to do something more mainstream than my recent work has been.”

The novel has been reported to be tentatively scheduled for 2011.

Chabon also gave an update on the film adaptations of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The latter has finally found a distributer and should hit theaters sometime in the future, Dinelspiel says. Kavalier & Clay, on the other hand, “is not going anywhere,” she reports.

Chabon Pushes to Fund Berkeley Libraries

Forgive me for not knowing about Berkeley politics. I’m so used to Michael Chabon and his wife writing about Barack Obama that I’d almost gotten used to all politics being national.

Not so, apparently. Today, the Daily Californian carries an op-ed by Chabon pushing for Berkeley voters to vote yes on Measure FF, which would provide $26 million to renovate, expand, and update the city’s branch libraries.

“I know it’s tough to ask people to foot that kind of a bill during hard times,” Chabon write. “But it’s precisely during times like these that the value — a value not measurable solely in terms of dollars-of our public library system is greatest.”

According to Chabon, Berkeley’s libraries are in desperate need for funding. “They are old, outdated, in some cases unsafe,” he writes. “Most of them have not been renovated since the 1970s. Their interiors are overcrowded and tired, and they have suffered the thousand natural shocks that Bay Area structures are heir to.”

Read the entire op-ed here.

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Chabon Talks About New Book

Michael Chabon shed some more light on his next book, saying “a lot of the same concerns, themes, motifs, and even to some degree conventions, that I have been exploring in my recent work will find their way into this book.”

In an interview with science fiction magazine Locus, Chabon says the new book will take place in Oakley and Berkeley, a place he says he loves and “it turns out I actually know a lot about.” The novel appears to be the same untitled Bay Area novel that Chabon, which is set to come out around 2011.

“I want to write another novel for younger readers and I know what that’s going to be, but I just felt that it had been since Wonder Boys in the early ’90s that I had written a novel set in consensus reality — modern-day America — and I missed it,” Chabon said.

The full interview appears in the August issue of Locus.

Cody’s Books Closes; Fave of Chabon’s

Cody’s Books, a Berkeley-based bookstore that sold novels nationally and that Michael Chabon encouraged fans to buy from, closed for good Friday because of lagging sales.

“I think it’s a terrible shame,” Chabon told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was a wonderful bookstore. It’s painful, sort of like watching someone suffering from a chronic illness painfully and slowly die. (Cody’s was) part of the fabric of Berkeley, the social fabric and commercial fabric.”

The store in recent years closed several branches until only one remained in Berkeley. But after rent nearly tripled a few months ago, the store’s owners decided they couldn’t keep it in business any longer.

Before Chabon stripped apart his Web site in 2006, he regularly linked to Cody’s site when encouraging visitors to buy his books. He also regularly had readings there for his new books, such as for The Final Solution and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.