Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Michael Chabon at Stacey's

At lunch time today local literary rock star Michael Chabon gave a reading at Stacey's Bookstore. I'd say there were about a hundred fans in attendance, half of us standing & jockeying for viewing spots. He read 2 selections from his new book of essays, Maps and Legends. He'll be happy to know that I found both his readings entertaining.

There's something very engaging about him as a person. He's funny & even a bit sweet. You feel like he would make a good friend. The first thing he said was, "I hope you all had lunch already!" Obviously he's done a million of these readings, so before taking questions, he preempted the most obvious ones by first giving us the "The Author's FAQ", stuff like:
  • Status of the Kavalier & Clay movie: unplugged by the studio at the last minute.
  • His process: he writes 5 days a week, 10am - 3pm & 10pm - midnight.
  • Favorite authors: Poe, Raymond Chandler, Roth, John Cheever.
  • Advice to young writers: live now, write later; read everything, even stuff you don't want to read, if only to prove your judgment correct.
  • The movie version of Wonder Boys: liked it.
He described his own reading tastes as catholic, & indeed seems to read & enjoy everything from comic books to Proust. He gave a nice remembrance of the recently passed Oakley Hall, who was his teacher at Irvine. At the end of the Q & A session, a woman got a laugh when she commented, "I didn't realize you were so funny." She then got a bigger laugh by asking him if he had chosen his own shirt or his wife had picked it out for him. Chabon pulled at his shirt with white & pale pink stripes & admitted that he liked pink. He recounted how he had once gone out wearing a shirt that contained a pink stripe, & a woman came up to him & told him he was "brave." I don't think anyone could have scripted such an endearing way to end the event.

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