Wednesday, September 05, 2012

If this is criticism...

This Esquire "review" of Michael Chabon's new Telegraph Avenue manages to straddle the fence between praise and smug takedown without giving the slightest feeling of what reading the book is like. I'll be reading this novel.
This is the 11th book by Chabon, who won the Pulitzer in 2001 for his epic novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a wonder of escapism that held nothing back. I bought it the day it was released and happily lost a week of my life to it, enchanted by its comic books, Nazis, golems, Antarctic battles. Chabon has become the principal cheerleader for the Avengerization of literature — effectively making genre cool again in literary circles. If you imagine him raising a sunlit saber and leading the charge, his cavalry has grown mighty, among them Justin Cronin (The Passage) and Colson Whitehead (Zone One).

Chabon writes big. His hulking plots defy summary. When I read one of his novels, I feel a little like I do when I turn a corner in the Met and see the gorgeous sprawl and splatter of Pollock's Autumn Rhythm, when I crank up the volume on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band — awed, hypnotized, overwhelmed. His maximalist style suits his maximalist stories, like the Zap! and Pow! sound effects of a comic-book panel.

1 comment:

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