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Old 30th September 2011, 11:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Michael Chabon

Hi Guys:

I've just been reading an interview by GRRM, within which he mentions (and praises) Michael Chabon. He cites Chabon in the context of arguing that fantasy books are more than able to show high literary standards.

What views do people have of Chabon?

Personally, in terms of fantasy authors who reach a high "literary standard" my pick would probably be Guy Gavriel Kay. Although honestly, my priority is great characters, a believable world, and ideally some heroism and romance; I don't want any literary pretensions getting in the way of that!

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Old 30th September 2011, 11:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

Mmm. "High literary standards" is a phrase that (whether it should or not) sort of suggests deadly dull and pretentious, doesn't it...

I've only read a couple of Michael Chabon's books, but that was because I got side-tracked as I was following them up, not because I didn't like them (the rest are sitting on my 'to read' pile). I would say, though, that the ones I have read were absolutely wonderful.

'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' is one of the best books I have ever read. It's wonderfully written and utterly gripping. It might be really clever (I couldn't possibly comment, I was too caught up in the adventures to notice) but I didn't spot any literary pretensions and if there were any they didn't get in the way of the story.

(You could argue that Ishiguro has high literary standards as well, but I haven't read a book that freaked me out so thoroughly as 'Never Let Me Go' for a very very long time).

I love Guy Gavriel Kay too.
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Old 1st October 2011, 12:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

I thought Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union was a brilliant mix of noir-ish detective story and alternative history. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was frequently brilliant, although I thought the story started to drag a bit towards the end and it felt a bit disjointed due to the large jumps in time.

The other Chabon book I've read is Gentlemen of the Road, which was a fun adventure story, although it doesn't have the same depth that the other two do.
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Old 1st October 2011, 08:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

I haven't read Chabon, but there are many examples of "literary fiction" that use fantasy SF tropes. One example might be Thomas Pynchon. "Gravity's Rainbow" and "Vineland" are strange, wonderful novels.
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Old 1st October 2011, 05:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

I've read The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Gentlemen of the Road and the thought the first was a few orders of magnitude better than the second. Didn't care for the flowery prose in the latter book one bit.
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Old 2nd October 2011, 12:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

Chabon has a quote about Jack Vance in the NY times magazine article entitled the "Genre Artist". I'd post a link but I reckon I can't yet on account I'm a new poster. If you search for "Ny times magazine jack vance" it will show up. Anyhow the article delves into the question of literature and sci-fi quite a bit, you might find it interesting. Here's the Chabon quote:

“Jack Vance is the most painful case of all the writers I love who I feel don’t get the credit they deserve. If ‘The Last Castle’ or ‘The Dragon Masters’ had the name "Italo Calvino" on it, or just a foreign name, it would be received as a profound meditation, but because he’s Jack Vance and published in Amazing Whatever, there’s this insurmountable barrier.”

The article is about Vance, written by a prof. Chabon has a couple of more quotes in the artricle, and there's something from Dan Simmons a few others, about how they really dig Vance.
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Old 3rd October 2011, 03:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

I've only read The Yiddish Policemens' Union. I didn't particularly see any literary pretensions. It was a good read, solid characters and all that. I liked the alternate history setting and the sense of failure and despair it kind of creates amongst the 'people' (I'm avoiding spoilers here). I felt the wrap up was a little bit Hollywood.

I wouldn't see it as being high literature, I think there are plenty of others who can lay claim to that first (PKD, Pynchon (as mentioned), and so on).
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Old 4th October 2011, 10:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen's Union was weaker than i expected. I dont buy into mainstream mag general fiction hype. I thought he sound interesting what his books is about.

I do wonder what the fans who posted here think is his best book ?

I will give him a second and final chance just because i too read that Genre Artist about Vance greatness, originality. He knows his truly great literature and not only the hyped foreign mainstream names.
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Old 4th October 2011, 02:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

Originally Posted by antiloquax View Post
.....Thomas Pynchon. "Gravity's Rainbow"..
Impressive. Yourself and Nesacat..maybe JD are the only people I know who have read the entire text. I have a copy but am yet to embark upon the journey. It's viewed by several critics as a masterpiece but by still more people as 'unreadable' perhaps a little dare I say like Joyces' Ulysees (especially if you don't have the appropriate anontated/academic edns at hand)?

Back on topic I know of Chabon of course and The Yiddish Policemens' Union but I'm sorry to say I'ver never read it. Perhaops I should give it a go?
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Old 4th October 2011, 05:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Michael Chabon

Originally Posted by GOLLUM View Post
I have a copy but am yet to embark upon the journey.
It's well worth it.
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