Maps and Leg­ends: Read­ing and Writ­ing Along the Borderlands

  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Chabon’s first non­fic­tion col­lec­tion gath­ers six­teen essays and talks rang­ing over a vari­ety of top­ics from Sher­lock Holmes, Cor­mac McCarthy, M.R. James, and Will Eis­ner to the art of the short sto­ry, the role of the trick­ster, and the strange, mys­te­ri­ous, and mar­velous pow­er of the golem. Fif­teen of the pieces in the col­lec­tion have appeared pre­vi­ous­ly, some in dif­fer­ent forms, in var­i­ous sources. Chabon’s fans will appre­ci­ate the glimpses he offers into his own for­ma­tive years as a writer, and his fits and starts in the trade, in My Back Pages.” Chabon’s lov­ing trib­utes to mas­ters of the comics Will Eis­ner (“Thoughts on the Death of Will Eis­ner”), Howard Chaykin (“The Killer Hook”), and Ben Katchor (“Lands­man of the Lost”), as well as his man­i­festo on reviv­ing the com­ic book for chil­dren today (“Kids’ Stuff”), reveal his deep and long-stand­ing love affair with the comics. Under­ly­ing all of the pieces in this col­lec­tion is Chabon’s abid­ing con­cern that all forms of lit­er­a­ture, as they nego­ti­ate the bor­ders of real­i­ty and appear­ance, should be enter­tain­ing and proud of their abil­i­ty to entertain.

Hen­ry L. Car­ri­g­an, Jr. writes about books for Pub­lish­ers Week­ly, Library Jour­nal, Book­Page, and Fore­Word. He has writ­ten for numer­ous news­pa­pers includ­ing the Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion, The Char­lotte Observ­er, The Cleve­land Plain Deal­er, The Orlan­do Sen­tinel, The Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, and The Wash­ing­ton Post Book World.

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