Worth reading: Salon’s interview with Michael Chabon, on the subject of his new novel Summerland. I haven’t read the book yet, because I was far too broke to buy hardcovers over the summer, but I rather expect to remember to pick it up soon. I think that Chabon’s sense of wonder makes him one of the best authors out there right now. Summerland sounds like a glorious expression of that sense of wonder.
It’s so clear that Chabon is a fan, by which I mean he covertly dwells in the weird little meshwork of interlocking subcultures defined by comic books, roleplaying games, science fiction, and other such traditionally geeky pursuits. I say covertly because he’s never really said as much, and on occasion he’s avoided answering questions regarding the depths of his comic book fandom. I can’t blame him: it’s a tarpit of a ghetto for someone who’s made it in the literary world. I would say that Chabon is no better a writer than Sean Stewart, but Stewart will never break out into the New York Times Book Review, because he comes nicely prelabelled.
As Chabon says, “When people heard that [Kavalier and Clay] was about comic books, I got a lot of ‘Oh, really? ‘Cause I thought I might be interested until I heard that.’ I was aware there was going to be some initial resistance from some people.” I think it’s reasonable to be wary. This way he gets good publicity, and he still gets to write the screenplay for the next Spider-Man movie. Lucky bastard.
Anyhow, in this interview, he mentions that he’s always wanted to write something like Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising” sequence. The signs are pretty clear. He’s one of us.
I thought it was a little sad that the interviewer failed to comment on the relationship between Summerland and the aforementioned Sean Stewart, who also dives deep into the rich world of American mythology, or even the rather obvious American Gods. Still, it’s nice hearing what Chabon had to say about the process and the choices and laziness in writing.