One of the most exciting American authors of the last 20 years is giving a reading Sept 26 as part of the 2012 Vancouver Writers Festival.
Michael Chabon may be known best for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning bestseller about the early days of comic books. His new novel, Telegraph Avenue, is another pop-culture-filled epic on a human scale. Entertaining and beautifully written, it’s a story that will appeal to anyone who’s lingered a little too long in record stores and book shops.
Michael Chabon hit the literary scene in 1988 with the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. His follow-up, Wonder Boys, built on that success and was turned into a movie starring Michael Douglas, Tobey McGuire, Katie Holmes and Robert Downey Jr.
But where Chabon’s first two novels were set in the real world, more or less, his subsequent books have taken a more imaginative turn. His bestseller The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, for example, is a detective story set in an alternate world where a Jewish settlement has formed in Alaska during WWII.
Chabon, in interviews and his work, often extolls the virtues of genre fiction. No literary snob he, the Berkeley-based writer is a goodwill ambassador for science fiction, crime and other genres that often get ignored or disparaged by critics. He has written a novella about Sherlock Holmes, and a pure adventure story set in ancient times, Gentlemen of the Road.
Chabon has even written a series of comic books based on his character The Escapist. His screenplay credits include work on Spider-Man 2 and this year’s John Carter.
Telegraph Avenue doesn’t stray far from (our) recognizable reality. It follows a brief period in the lives of the owners, one black and one white, of a record store on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. But it’s also about midwifery, jazz, a parrot named Fifty-Eight, blaxploitation cinema and more. It’s a novel to dive into and immerse yourself in, one filled with complex characters and sweet surprises (like a cameo by a then-Senator Barack Obama), and it’s another triumph for Chabon, a populist who can nonetheless craft a sentence with the best of them.
Michael Chabon reads from Telegraph Avenue at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, 1012 Nelson at Burrard. For tickets go here.