My first Chabon novel appeared in the post last week, second hand from Amazon. The binding slightly torn in the top corner, the thin lines through the thick spine showing it had been read all through. It’s a tome, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. My friend Kate introduced me to Michael Chabon like this: ‘Will you book tickets to see Michael Chabon with me on the 7th oct and then read one of his books in the meantime please? Thanks.’
Close Up with Michael Chabon on the 7th was at the Whitworth Art Gallery, high ceiling, surrounded by David Hockney prints. There was an echo that created this weird repetition during his ten minute reading from his novel, Telegraph Avenue, sending the words back to him like a new type of gravity. It really came across from hearing him read how intense the writing is on detail- the ‘ridges of his eyebrows are cratered by the ghosts of renounced piercings’. I also really liked the strips of flesh-gray tofu. His second extract was a descriptive list that was like a poem of vocabulary.
When he was asked to describe his novels he digressed into the realms of different genres, and I really liked when he used the term, ‘naturalistic fiction’. He also described his works as circling around visions of a vanished utopia.
When asked about sexuality in his novels he had some really interesting answers, I especially liked the way he rep-presented Kipling’s poem If,
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
If you can present an image of confidence
It’s better for everyone around you.
This idea of masculinity as a responsibility, a built up barrier between your vulnerable self and the world really chimed with my thinking on feminist issues. It reflects back into the way Amazing Adventures explores this masculine comic world. One of the audience questions was, who is your favourite comic character? And he reeled off these strange creations, my favourite of which was Stone Boy, whose only power was, he was able to turn into a stone. That completely expresses this kind of strength in nullness, in not really reacting, which is a paralysing strength.
I’m excited to read his newest novel, I like that it is set in 2004, within my memory span. Having read Amazing Adventures I’m now reading, The Man in the High Castle, by Phillip K. Dick. Still struggling through Ray Bradbury’s essays Zen in the Art of Writing! Next Manchester Literature Festival Event I’m attending will be the Bringing Literature to Life on Saturday.