American writer Laurie R. King – author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice amongst other things – has a great blog here.
A post she put up a day or two ago about Michael Chabon really intrigued me. Not only is he a writer of off-beat sci-fi crime (inter alia) he is also a cultural critic. I read the article Laurie mentioned (from the LA Times) and, when I subsequently googled Michael Chabon, I was reminded that I had read his first novel - The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - almost twenty years ago and really enjoyed it. Why hadn’t I followed it up with his other stuff? I suspect it’s because his work is published in the US and not necessarily available or flagged up over here – with the internet little more than a twinkle in Tim Berners Lee’s eye in 1988 there was no Amazon to chase books up, so Mr Chabon dropped off my radar.
I said a quite ‘hooray’ when reading the LA Times article because MC is basically saying ‘hey people, let’s not be so uptight about the whole high-brow, low-brow thing’. As somebody who is on record as saying that I am not an automatic fan of ‘literary’ novels, that I never watch art-house films and like rock music just as much – often more, because I’m more often in the mood – as classical, this message is liable to appeal to me. But he’s not just asking us to get off our high horses about what’s worthwhile and what’s not, he’s actually making a very real point about the function and source of entertainment, a point which we ignore to our own detriment, I think.
So, read the article and check out Michael Chabon’s work. I can’t resist the sound of his The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – nearly as good as The Herring Seller’s Apprentice in the ‘buy me, I’m different and funny and literate’ stakes. I shall be acquiring it as soon as funds allow.