Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I'm Reading: Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys

I decided to take a break from robots and Descartes over the holiday break and give Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon another read.

Wonder Boys: A Novel Wonder Boys was the first book of his I read.  I picked it up shortly after seeing the movie when it came out in the theaters.  (I also refer back to Steve Kloves' screenplay adaptation many times, which is a really fine piece of work, as well.)

I followed that by reading his collection of short stories and bought The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay when it first came out (and still think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, ever, and yes that puts him up there with other folks I admire like Paul Auster, Milan Kundera, Michael Ondaatje, Ernest Hemingway, and Samuel Beckett).

Now that I live in Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys resonates with me in entirely new ways and not because I live a mere few miles from where most of the action of the story takes place.  

It’s also the culture and the people.  When Chabon mentions that Sara Gaskell grew up in Greenfield, got a PhD and married a guy from Harvard, I know why that might be a big deal (and cause some friction in her marriage).  I have a better understanding of the different neighborhoods (as well as Grady’s in-laws which are in the book, but not the movie).
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay 
Of course, Chabon’s excellent story is universal—it doesn’t matter what city you are in. His world is filled with interesting characters that seem so specific and genuine (and lovable) that you’d swear they were your neighbors.  His prose is never superfluous, always graceful and illuminating, with a poetic everyman quality. 

On reading his novel, I think, this is why I don’t write books.  I tried once.  No one will ever find that lousy manuscript, I swear.  I’ll stick to the dramatic form, thank you very much.  No way I’m going to compete with Chabon.

Now that I've finished Wonder Boys, it's time to join Kavalier & Clay and their amazing adventures of the Escapist.  

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