Maps & Legends
by Kevin Wilder
I’ve never read Michael Chabon. Last year, after so many people seemed to enjoy The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, I took it on myself to buy a used copy at Mojo Books, then a week later found myself sendinf it off to a friend. The only reason I can remember for doing this was that the hardcover edition was too bulky to fit in my backpack on a plane ride to Boston, and I was already packed to move.
Ever since, upon visiting bookstores, the cover designs for both the hardcover and paperback copies of Maps & Legends have been calling out to me. This time I had a gift card, and decided it was time to give it a go. When one has adequate resources, buying books always trumps checking them out. And then there was the Acknowledgments section: instead of being a list, I flipped to find a topological map of authors Chabon has found influential and helpful.
For a book categorized under Literary Criticism, this was anything but negative. Chabon praises the authors and comics he loves the most. He writes about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and genre fiction. Some of the chapters were good but interested me less. Maybe since I knew so little about the subjects being praised. But the latter sections of his experiences grappling with and sometimes enjoying writing wrapped me back in again. I liked how he spared the unnecessary details, and left me thirsty and curious for more.
Some books perfectly coincide with what you need at a particular time. And then others come along and fail to relate to you this way. You pretend to love them as if they did, and hope that maybe you’ll cross paths at a later date. It’s a bit like dating, I suppose. In this way, book #13 was good to me. Book #14 (or #15, depending on how we feel tomorrow) will be a famous and entertaining (!) British one about grammar. If that doesn’t make it obvious enough, let it be said there are pandas on the cover.