Tuesday, April 23, 2024 Apr 23, 2024
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A Perfunctory Recap of Michael Chabon’s Appearance, Accompanied by a Grainy Photo

The novelist was in Dallas for the St. Mark's Literary Festival.
Before the event, Chabon (left, gesturing to "stay back") was accosted by novelist Ben Fountain (center) and some Highland Park lawyer wearing a purple blazer.

Last night, one of the greatest novelists America has ever produced came to St. Mark’s to talk and sign books as part of the school’s literary festival. You know Michael Chabon as the author of Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, among other books (and essays). Also, you’ve seen his amazing hair.

In a Q&A led ably by David Brown, St. Mark’s Victor White Master Teaching Chair in English, Chabon had his mostly gray-headed audience nodding and laughing for 90 minutes. He said that when he was a child, he saw a bunch of radiator hoses hanging in a mechanic’s garage and thought they looked like Arabic writing; he has carried around that simile ever since, waiting for the opportunity to use it (which opportunity, I suppose, presented itself last night). Chabon said a first draft should never be written with a theme in mind, and he confessed that he didn’t realize Kavalier & Clay was about escape until he began his second draft of the novel. He recommended Stephen King’s On Writing for those interested in the craft.

What else? Chabon said writing is hard and he struggles to resist the pull of nostalgia and he distrusts any group of humans that numbers more than seven or eight (last night’s audience of 80 excepted?) and despite the state of American politics he tries to remain hopeful and now that his youngest of four children is in college he might return to writing more short stories. He said a lot and did so thoughtfully.

But here’s the one thing he said that I especially would like to pass along. Chabon is now 60. He’s on his second marriage. He said that as he has gotten older, he has come to realize that in a marital fight, it doesn’t matter who is right. He said he didn’t think this conclusion was the result of his advanced age or fatigue or senescence (his word).

“Let it go, and don’t take the bait,” Chabon said. “That’s all I’ve learned in my whole life.”

The mature members of the audience nodded. I took out my phone and made a note.


Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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