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Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands Paperback – Bargain Price, February 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Chabon's defense of genre isn't confined to comics. His right concern is that most genre writers are marginalized to some degree, regardless of their talents and achievements. It takes a Patrick O'Brian or JRR Tolkien longer to garner critical praise simply because they're "merely" writing sea novels or fantasy epics, and however good a sci-fi or western writer might be, chances are his or her book is stuck in a corner at the bookstore. In 1984 and Hound of the Baskervilles and Frankenstein appeared for the first time this year, they might get lost in the genre aisle, and would almost certainly confront dismissive criticism. All of which Chabon elucidates far better than I.
Genre aside, Chabon's essays about his own career are terrific and entertaining. If PW wants to imagine this book's audience, it's people who enjoy reading or writing fiction--literary *or* genre--and those who like Chabon and his books. That's a big readership.
Chabon's essays on Will Eisner, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials saga, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road are interesting critiques. I had read Eisner and The Road but not His Dark Materials and so felt a little left out. You might want to skip those essays until you've read the texts beforehand.
The largest theme in the work is Chabon's love for genre fiction and his desire to see it respected in literary circles. Chabon is a much better genre apologist than genre writer. Genre fans love our genre apologists and Chabon is certainly one of the best. However, I've always found his genre work sluggish and unenjoyable.
If one were to pick between this and his other essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs, I would definitely pick the latter. Maps and Legends is always interesting but never particularly essential the way Manhood felt.
My review would probably be more glowing but I wanted those new to Chabon to get a feel for the reservations they should have about reading this first before his major works. To anyone who already enjoys Michael Chabon their enjoyment of this would be a near guarantee.
"Maps and Legends" can hardly be considered mainstream nonfiction. It's appeal may be to his fans and to those who pine for the days of short stories and comics and highly-regarded genre fiction. There is no doubting the man's skill and passion, though. Publishers Weekly seems to have an ax of their own to grind by slamming this collection as a bitter diatribe from a Pulitzer-winning author. I felt very little of that "bitterness"; instead, I found a lot of nostalgic ruminations and words of wisdom. Some of it is cautionary, some humorous, and much of it autobiographical.
I have to thank Chabon for writing about something dear to his heart, despite the perceptions of jaded critics. I may not always agree with the man's ideas, or buy into his stories, but I cannot help but admire his chutzpah--even if he'd rather I just called it "courage."
Since we are now so fond of the likes of Lost through Transformers -- our culture has indeed always loved these sorts of things -- while certain literary connoisseurs lament an apparently lame-brained passion for these genre entertainments, at the same time mourning the demise of wholesale American literacy, what's the plan for bringing people back to good books? Stomping out the fun stuff?
So, yes, I'd say we could use a bold defense of genre fiction, comic books and -- gasp! -- entertaining authors. A fiery "tirade" may well suit. And, my stars, please don't confuse "emphatic" or "adamant" with "bitter". Otherwise published in this volume, Chabon's short-form memoirs collected are a welcome addition to his catalog.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Truly a book for readers. The sort that grabs your attention from the start and never let's go.
Fast moving, perceptive, and on target. Read more
A great series of essays on Chabon's writing life. Each chapter is an interesting narrative from his life, providing a look at this history, as well as his writing process.Published 22 months ago by Captain Awesome
Michael Chabon is a genius but he can talk over your head at times. However, he is fun to read and has interesting takes on the literary world.Published on June 6, 2014 by chela
Sometimes a person buys a book because of who wrote it. Michael Chabon is an accomplished author. A good read.Published on October 30, 2013 by John F. Baesch
I read The Final Solution. As a devoted Sherlockian, I was thrilled and delighted by the book and the incredibly clever title. Read morePublished on March 21, 2013 by Iamwelshyouknow
When Michael Chabon came to Davidson during my time as student, in 2008, I took feverish notes on his lecture. Read morePublished on September 20, 2012 by Caroline Niziol
If you like Chabon (and I usually do) you will like this book. And I'll admit I'm a sucker for anything that shines a light on a favorite author's thoughts, history and work... Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by Tom
One of the most insightful essay collections on the craft of writing published in recent times, Michael Chabon's "Maps and Legends" not only offers readers some invaluable insights... Read morePublished on July 18, 2012 by John Kwok