Chabon Makes New Book Recommendations

The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog this week has been featuring reading recommendations by various authors. Among those the WSJ contacted was Michael Chabon, who recommended two books published by author Bryan Charles in 2010, There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From and Pavement’s Wowee Zowee.

“Though one is an account of aspiration and scuffling in Manhattan in the year leading up to the 9/11 attacks (Charles filled a cubicle in the WTC and his account of the day is startling and fresh), and the other is a (quirky, personal) consideration and history of a great band’s neglected masterpiece, the two books actually interlock and engage with each other in a number of interesting ways,” Chabon said.

For recommendations by other authors, including Dave Eggers and Jennifer Egan, head here and here.

Chabon Names Ideal Picks for Nobel Prize

Reuters reports on the betting and secrecy surrounding the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the report, the news agency asked Michael Chabon who he’d pick for the prize: Ursula K. Leguin, Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, J.G. Ballard or Philip Roth.

“Every year, one crosses one’s fingers for Philip Roth,” Chabon said.

Chabon noted that the Nobel Prize, like other prominent awards, “shines a very bright light, often into an undeservedly dark corner.”

Chabon himself, of course, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. “The day I found out that I had won a Pulitzer, I picked up my then three-year-old son from nursery school. ‘Daddy won a prize today,’ I told him. His face lit up. ‘Open it! Open it!’ he said.”

Chabon Discusses Genre Fiction

The Los Angeles Times has a Q&A posted this week with Michael Chabon on the topic of genre and pulp fiction as Chabon continues to promote Maps and Legends.

“Every so often a writer hacks and crawls out of the brambles of genre,” Chabon says. “Somebody like Philip K. Dick clearly began in the pulps, writing mass commercial fiction. Almost by dint of the passion of his fans, and the intensity of his vision, and all of that stuff, eventually he ends up getting canonized in Library of America. But those are much more the exceptions.”

Chabon gives a list of authors who have inspired him over the years: Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Ross Thomas, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Michael Moorcock, Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby, Steve Gerber, Alan Moore. “And there are a whole list of borderland writers — John Crowley, Jorge Luis Borges, Stephen Millhauser, Thomas Pynchon — writers who can dwell between worlds,” he adds.

The rest of the interview can be read here.

Chabon Joins Progressive Book Club Panel

A newly formed Progressive Book Club includes Michael Chabon as one of six panelists reviewing the monthly slate of books.

The International Herald Tribune reports that the club, which began this week, is inviting readers to buy three books for $1 each. Members are then required to buy other four books over two years. “The right has always understood the power of ideas, the power of books as legitimizers of ideas,” said club founder Elizabeth Wagley. “I see the opportunity with the book club structure to create a powerful tool to showcase the ideas of the left.”

Other panelists include novelists Erica Jong and Barbara Kingsolver; John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress; Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation; and Todd Gitlin, a journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University.

Chabon Discusses Current Reading

Newark Star-Ledger caught up with Chabon and asked him what he is reading right now.

Among the books: Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” “Persuasion,” and “Emma,” part of an Austen kick Chabon’s been on lately.

“I love Austen’s tone,” he says. “It’s all about the tone and the point of view. I go over her paragraphs endlessly, to see how she manages to convey the amount of contempt you are supposed to feel for a character, or the respect you are sup posed to feel for a character, and the way that she modulates contempt and respect in the same paragraph. There is great pleasure in reading her books.”

Chabon says he also recently re-read “The Charterhouse of Parma” by Stendhal.

“I love the way that he is addressing his French readers and trying to make these Italian characters comprehensible, when he is actually mocking his French readers,” Chabon says. “I was close to Fabrizio’s age when I read it. I was 18. I think I missed a lot of Fabrizio’s ironic detachment as an older man looking back at his youth. I just admired his adventurous spirit. The fact that he was kind of an idiot was lost on me then.”

Chabon also says he recently read “The Death of the Detective” by Mark Smith, which Chabon says it one of Jonathan Lethem’s favorite books.

“The novel is set in the Chicago underworld with a detective investigating a murder,” Chabon says. “It’s a huge 1970s novel, from the era of Pyn chon and Gaddis.”