Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands

05/21/2008 12:00 AM |

Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
Michael Chabon • McSweeney’s Books •
Available now

As Michael Chabon outlines his literary passions and preoccupations in this collection of essays, what emerges is a portrait of a writer obsessed with recurring themes: the stigmatization of genre fiction, the role of comics and graphic novels, the myth of the golem, the writer’s search for his own identity and the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name a few. While Chabon never claims to offer an answer to the infuriating “How do you come up with your ideas?” these essays give the reader a glimpse into a world of authorial influence that can’t help but inform a reading of Chabon’s fiction.

While some of these essays are explicitly personal, the majority are odes to Chabon’s literary heroes. His tone is refreshingly and unapologetically enthusiastic as he advocates for his favorite misunderstood, overlooked and underappreciated authors. Like a friend who’s discovered a new band, Chabon grabs us by the shoulders and shakes us, not wanting his readers to miss out on what he’s discovered from a life shaped by reading.