Visha Burkart's Reviews > Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
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Apr 27, 09

Read in April, 2009

A first work of non-fiction from Michael Chabon, author of The Adventures of Cavailier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Absolutely love the hardback cover-art - so creatively done; however, to find this collection of essays on writing most helpful, you should be fairly well-read. Otherwise, you are going to be playing catch-up, rather than be inspired to later read the works. Case in point: his essay on Cormac McCarthy's The Road (this essay was recommended by Branson). While it was a thorough exploration of great writers and their forays into science-fiction literature, I felt as though other reviews I'd read of The Road could compete... perhaps even some good student essays could best this review/essay by Chabon. Chabon mentions that for "great writers" to write science-fiction, it is often regarded as, well, "slumming it" in the circles of writers, McCarthy's text goes beyond simple sci-fi, even with all the hall marks of the genre (the destruction of the natural world; the exposed ill nature of mankind; the loss of law; the few "good guys" attempting to hold onto vestiges of civilization - agriculture, literature, etc.). While I was not thoroughly moved by this collection, I admit that it warrants another look. As a side note, Chabon briefly mentions JG Ballard, who did write some sci-fi literature, but also wrote the amazing book Empire of the Sun (Spielberg made a film of it in the '80s, starring a very young Christian Bale); sadly, the next day I read that JG Ballard died at the age of 78. Very sad; he was a fascinating man and a great writer.
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