Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing along the Borderlands (Michael Chabon)

In academia, you get used to reading certain kinds of essays and forget that enjoyable, articulate, and often more intelligent essays are produced by literary authors. (Hey, I’m a literary author! I should write more, better essays.)

Chabon is at his best when he discusses books and worst when he discusses his life. The best work in this book focuses on the “borderlands” of the subtitle—Chabon’s “borderlands” (does he take the term from the William Hope Hodgson novel, The House on the Borderland, which I plan to read soon?) are the places where so-called “literary” and genre fiction connect.

As I’ve become more interested in these “slipstream” productions over the past few years, I agree wholeheartedly with most of Chabon’s observations and his main point, which is that writers and readers should embrace genre while remaining “literary” (each position does not exclude the other, no matter what marketers would have you believe).

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