Chabon: ‘No Substitute’ For Macdowell Colony

Michael Chabon says “there’s no substitute” for MacDowell Colony, where he’s written parts of his last three books.

Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, take turns going to MacDowell on two-week trips each year, The New York Times reported today.

“The work just becomes the center of your entire existence,” Chabon said. “You can’t be a good parent and have your work be the center of your entire existence. They’re mutually exclusive.”

The Times said Chabon has written “important parts” of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union while at the colony. “The last time I was at MacDowell I wrote a 70,000-word draft of a novel,” Waldman said, referring to Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. “I was completely inspired, I’ve never written like that before or since.”

Critic Causes Ayelet to Cry

A review in New York magazine that said Ayelet Waldman was “writing in the shadow of husband Michael Chabon” caused Waldman to cry, USA Today reported Thursday.

The article, by Boris Kachka, briefly outlined the lives of the authors of four different books about families, including Waldman’s newest novel, Love and Other Impossible Persuits.

Kachka describes Waldman as “[w]riting in the shadow of husband Michael Chabon, especially after contributing a Times ‘Styles’ column that bragged about preferring her Adonis of a mate to her own children A recent joint magazine interview demonstrated that for this couple, there’s no such thing as too much information.”

“Usually I try not to read that stuff. For someone who writes openly about her life, I have the thinnest skin,” Waldman told USA Today. “I don’t like feeling that people don’t like me. It makes me very upset.”

Waldman was also asked about her next novel, Winter’s End, which she says she got the idea for after being confronted by several women on Oprah.

“I looked at those women and thought, ‘That’s the kind of person I want to write about’: the person who prepared herself so completely for a professional career, was single-minded about it, then got married and had children and found herself with a totally different life.

“It’s a good life in this sort of Madame Bovary way,” Waldman said. “It’s beautiful and perfect and seems to be just what you want but ends up becoming a gilded cage.”

Check out the full interview here.

Holiday Break Wrap-Up

During the past three weeks, this site has been on an unannounced break while its operator took a much-needed vacation. Consequently, a lot of news did not get covered. Here’s just a few of the more juicy tid-bits:

Following a report on this site about a drop in sales for The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Michael Chabon announced that “changes, as yet unspecified but probably nothing as drastic as outright cancellation, are in the works.””One cannot expect even the infinitely patient and forebearing people at Dark Horse Comics to carry this weak sister indefinitely, at least not without making some changes,” he said over at his site on Dec. 21.

The Vancouver Courier ran an article about Escapist artist Steve Rolston on Jan. 1 and asked him a little about his new gig.”I tend to be a little wary of comics about making comics,” Rolston told the paper, “but this one is done so well and it’s so brilliant that I love it. And the whole comic within a comic book thing, it’s more than that.”

Rolston also showed the paper images of Roth.

“He is my kind of character,” Rolston said. “He’s a guy who loves comics and he’s not the most social butterfly, so I think most comic book creators can relate.”

The New York Times published new evidence on Jan. 9 that could prove San Francisco author JT LeRoy, who is said to be friends with Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, is a 40-year-old, middle-class woman instead of a former male hooker.Neither Chabon or Waldman have publicly reacted yet. But Dave Eggers told the San Francisco Chronicle that if the report was correct, “then I was fooled by the JT LeRoy persona as much as anyone.”

“I actually edited a story, ‘Harold’s End,’ by LeRoy, and spent hours on the phone — with someone — going through a typical line-edit,” Eggers said.

The Sacramento Bee published a short interview with Waldman about her newest novel, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

Waldman’s newest Salon column hit the net this week. In it, she discusses her mother-in-law, aka Chabon’s mom.”My mother-in-law’s style is much more subtle than my own,” she writes. “Because of her natural reserve she would never have mentioned our rivalry, and it’s even possible that she didn’t feel it. Or at least wouldn’t acknowledge the feeling. But it was there, lurking under the surface of even our most positive of interactions.”