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Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
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Maps and Legends

by Michael Chabon (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This collection of essays has moments of brilliance...and then some "just good" essays. I especially loved the essay about his childhood in Columbia, Maryland, a planned community much different than the rest of late 1960s - early 1970s America. The essay on Cormac McCarthy is wonderful and made me almost want to read another of his works, but I'm not quite convinced. I do want to read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Pullman. Overall, I am very glad that I read this work. ( )
  LaurieAE | Aug 22, 2013 |
Because I've read more of Chabon's later books than his earlier ones I was less intrigued by the essays here that look at his own work, but he's very persuasive about his own literary enthusiasms, and the pieces dealing with those were the ones I enjoyed the most. My "to read" list is getting a lot longer as a result of reading this collection! ( )
  savoirfaire | Apr 6, 2013 |
Fabulous, as all Chabon is...this is an exploration of the spaces between: fiction/non-fiction as well as "Literature" and genre fiction. Insightful essays, well-craftedand thought-provoking. ( )
  ScoutJ | Mar 31, 2013 |
Not all of this was new to me, but I've got somewhat of a soft spot for Chabon's ruminations on genre fiction. The man makes a good argument about how foolish it is that some writing can be considered Literature, while other writing is condemned to be thought of as little more than a childish diversion, merely because of the subject matter.

Nevertheless, he feels a bit like a mad prophet shouting in the desert. Capital-L Literature ain't going nowhere.

As the book proceeds, the essays become more and more personal, as Chabon comments on his own writing, fears, hopes, and dreams. At times, this seems to stretch the boundaries of his self-defined "Maps and Legends" framework (intentionally, perhaps?), but it also renders the book more effective and affecting.

The essays are all pretty short, which does offer the advantage of keeping the author from belaboring his points overmuch, but at the same time, I would have liked him to comment in more detail on some of his thoughts. ( )
  jawalter | Nov 18, 2012 |
At their best, these essays are superb. Would particularly cite the opening essay ("Trickster in a Suit of Lights" which focuses on the modern short story, and laments the increased divergence from its roots in ghost stories, adventure stories, and the like) and the closing essay/fiction ("Golems I Have Known" which seamlessly weaves autobiography with invention to describe Chabon's encounters with three golems that shaped his subsequent life and trajectory, with a particularly richly drawn fraudulent writer/Holocaust survivor).

In between, many of the essays focus on particular books or authors. When you have read/like them, they can be extremely good (the essay on His Dark Materials is fascinating, describing it as coming from the Christian tradition while most other fantasy is from the Norse), in some cases they serve as a good introduction to an author you may read little or none (e.g., "The Other James" about M.R. James), but in many--especially the ones about comic books I have never read--it is less interesting.

Overall, the goal of the book is to defend genre fiction--and especially comic books--celebrating the "trickster" in literature who entertains with well shaped stories with good plots, interesting characters, and leaving the reader uncertain what is real and what is a trick. And it was successful in achieving this goal. ( )
  jasonlf | Jun 17, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chabon, MichaelAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crane, JordanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The more I dive into this matter of whaling, and push my researches up to the very spring-head of it, so much the more am I impressed with its great honorableness and antiquity; and especially when I find so many great demi-gods and heroes, prophets of all sorts, who one way or other have shed distinction upon it, I am transported with the reflection that I myself belong, though but subordinately, to so emblazoned a fraternity.

— Herman Melville, on the writing of fan fiction

Dedication
To Ayelet
First words
Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights.
Quotations
Ghost stories, mysteries, stories of terror or adventure or modern urban life- descend from the fireside tale, told with wolves in the woods all around, with winter howling at the window.   pg 132
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Collection of essays - review of books and authors, thoughts on the state of comics and graphic novels, memoir-like pseudo-fiction, etc.
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A series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing, with subjects running from ghost stories to comic books, Sherlock Holmes to Cormac McCarthy. Throughout, Chabon energetically argues for a return to the thrilling, chilling origins of storytelling, rejecting the false walls around "serious" literature in favor of a wide-ranging affection.… (more)

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