Synopses & Reviews
Maps and Legends is an essay collection by American author Michael Chabon that was scheduled for official release on May 1, 2008, although some copies shipped two weeks early from various online bookstores. The book is Chabon's first book-length foray into nonfiction, with 16 essays, some previously published. Several of these essays are defenses of the author's work in genre literature (such as science fiction, fantasy, and comics), while others are more autobiographical, explaining how the author came to write several of his most popular works.
"You would hardly think, reading Chabon's new book of essays, that he won the Pulitzer Prize for a book about comics. Rather, he is bitter and defensive about his love for genre fiction such as mysteries and comic books. Serious writers, he says, cannot venture into these genres without losing credibility. 'No self-respecting literary genius...would ever describe him- or herself as primarily an "entertainer,"' Chabon writes. 'An entertainer is a man in a sequined dinner jacket, singing "She's a Lady" to a hall filled with women rubber-banding their underwear up onto the stage.' Chabon devotes most of the essays to examining specific genres that he admires, from M.R. James's ghost stories to Cormac McCarthy's apocalyptic work, The Road. The remaining handful of essays are more memoir-focused, with Chabon explaining how he came to write many of his books. Chabon casts himself as one of the few brave souls willing to face ridicule — from whom isn't entirely clear, though it seems to be academics — to write as he wishes. 'I write from the place I live: in exile,' he says. It's hard to imagine the audience for this book. Chabon seems to want to debate English professors, but surely only his fellow comic-book lovers will be interested in his tirade." Publishers Weekly
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"Chabon argues that there's a place for both high and low art in literature and that what really makes a reader is a love for the story...Affectionate and funny." Library Journal
"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 author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay pens a work of literary non-fiction — a series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing.
About the Author
Michael Chabon lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, and their children.