The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; procrastination and doubt reveal the way toward Wonder Boys; a love of comics and a basement golem combine to create the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; and an enigmatic Yiddish phrasebook unfurls into The Yiddish Policeman's Union.
Praise for Maps and Legends
"Affectionate and funny; a welcome and necessary addition to all collections."
And entertainment, as Chabon argues in this collection’s opening essay, is what literary art all boils down to. As in all his books, there’s plenty of it to be had in Maps and Legends.
—New York Times Book Review
"The book business is sagging, web-based readership is exploding, but Maps and Legends is, implicitly, a clarion call back to the future, where serious entertainments count, where the written word—framed by images or just plunked down, alone on the page—create what Chabon calls 'a kind of midair transfer of strength, contact across a void, like the tangling of cable and steel between two lonely bridgeheads.'”
—Globe and Mail
"Michael Chabon’s first collection of nonfiction, makes an inviting case for bridging the gap between popular and literary writing, as he considers the high and the low, from comics to Cormac McCarthy. Like the makers of golems, creatures of Jewish legend, 'the writer shapes his story, flecked like river clay wit the grit of experience and rank with the smell of human life.' Vital energy and a boundless appetite for risk give these essays their electric charge."
"Michael Chabon is more substantive in Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
. Readers just catching up to Chabon’s novels—gay Gatsby, groves of academe, superhero graphic, boy’s book of pilgrimage, neo-Victorian espionage, sci-fi noir—already know that he is fiercely loyal to the child he was and will enjoy his wind-chiming on genre fiction from Poe to Nabokov; “tricksters” from Loki, Coyote, and Krishna to Borges, Calvino, and Pynchon; horror stories by M. R. James, Sherlock Holmes under Conan Doyle’s hood; Norse myths, Philip Pullman, John Milton and epic fantasy; Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Captain Marvel; Howard Chaykin and Citizen Kane; Ben Katchor and Julius Knipl; Cormac McCarthy, Will Eisner, and other golems. What is so startling is how much more interesting most of these indulgences are to read about in Chabon’s pages than they were on their own, in the pulpy original, as if the nostalgic novelist, like the magician-for-hire in his Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
, can make paper roses consumed by fire bloom from a pile of ash."