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 Elected as MacDowell Chair; Updates on New Book

Michael Chabon was elected chairman of the board of directors of MacDowell Colony, a prominent retreat for artists and writers in Peterborough, New Hampshire that both he and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, have frequented often.

Chabon succeeds Robert MacNeil, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. In an interview with the Journal, Chabon said he began frequenting the colony around the time he was working on “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.”

“There I was with one child and trying to write this novel and beginning to struggle in a way that a lot of writers who are parents struggle,” he said. “I went in 1995 for a three-week stay. Instead of getting one-thousand words done –- and if I get one-thousand words, I feel heroic –- I was getting two, three, sometimes four-thousand words in a day.”

Chabon also told the Journal that he is trying to turn his next novel, Telegragh Avenue, in to his publisher in 2011.

I’m working on a novel that I started at the MacDowell colony a couple of years ago, actually. I’m going to try to turn it in 2011. It’s called “Telegraph Avenue.” Chabon said he began work on it “a couple of years ago” at MacDowell. He told the Miami Hurricane last year that it is “set in contemporary Berkeley and Oakland” and is “a family story, I guess.”

“Telegraph Avenue” was also the name of a pilot script Chabon worked on for TNT some years ago that he has said was “the story of two families, white and black, in Oakland and Berkeley, CA.”

Parts of Fountain City Getting Published

Four chapters of Michael Chabon’s failed and unpublished novel Fountain City are set to be released in the next issue of McSweeney’s, Media Bistro’s GalleyCat reports.

The book, which was supposed to be Chabon’s follow up to 1988’s Mysteries of Pittsburgh, is described in a preface by Chabon as having been written by “a poetically sad young man who apprenticed himself to a visionary, postmodern architect.” After spending years on the book, which hit four-digit page lengths, Chabon finally abandoned it and turned the experience writing it into what actually became his second novel, 1995’s Wonder Boys.

McSweeney’s is publishing the first four chapters, just 93 pages of what GalleyCat says became a 1,500 page book. Chabon had previously published the first chapter on his Web site, but he took it down a few years ago following a revamp. McSweeney’s No. 36 is available Dec. 7.

Chabon Tackles ‘Blockheadedness’ of Flotilla Raid

Michael Chabon over the weekend had an op-ed piece in the New York Times weighing in on the Jewish reaction to the “blockheadedness” of Israel’s raid of the Gaza-bound flotilla last week.

“If Israel was, as the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann put it, to “become as Jewish as England is English and America is American,” then, like England and America and every other modern polity, Israel must slog along through history, purblind and panicky, from its founding to its ultimate fate, prey at every moment to — and, God willing, on guard against — its rich, inglorious human heritage of blockheadedness,” Chabon wrote.

The full piece can be found here.

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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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