While the writer Michael Chabon became eleven years vintage, activities took place that would have oversized have an effect on his existence and paintings: His parents separated, and most effective one individual confirmed as much as the first and handiest assembly of the Columbia Comedian Book Club. Chabon, who by means of then became dwelling with his mother in Columbia, Maryland, had taken out an ad inside the nearby paper inviting people to a multipurpose room at a local mall, in which he supposed to charge attendees $1 for the club. At the mall, his mother left him to run errands, whilst Chabon waited for others to reach. Eventually, one young boy round his age confirmed up along with his mom — and promptly left, telling Chabon that the greenback was too steep an admission fee.
Nowadays, Chabon is 53 and one of the maximum commemorated and a success living writers in The USA, an exquisite storyteller with a litany of nerdy hobbies (comics, rockets, technological know-how fiction) that he weaves into his books in a manner that appears handy. He wrote his first novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, whilst within the MFA program At the College of California, Irvine; his professor, the late author MacDonald Harris, despatched it to his agent, who directly sold it, and it has become a bestseller. Chabon becomes 24. His 2d novel, Surprise Boys, become made into a seriously acclaimed (if commercially underperforming) 2000 movie with the aid of Curtis Hanson. In 2001, At the age of 37, he received the Pulitzer Prize for The Outstanding Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, an E-book approximately superheroes and comics that is credited with bringing a literary sensibility to style fiction. He has written comics, youngsters’ books, essays, musicals, track lyrics, and a viral GQ essay approximately taking his 13-yr-antique son to Paris Guys’s Fashion Week; he is the chairman of the board of the MacDowell Colony, an artists’ colony in New Hampshire. His new novel, Moonglow — a fictional memoir approximately Chabon’s circle of relatives — has already been nominated for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, and changed into referred to as “elegiac and deeply poignant” in Michiko Kakutani’s The big apple Times overview. He has four youngsters and a happy marriage and a lovely Craftsman domestic in Berkeley, California, and a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. You kind of need to hate him.
he’s a true, unrepentant nerd, who has most effective ever been looking for his people.
But it’s far difficult to hate him. On a sunny morning in October, Chabon and his wife, novelist, and memoirist Ayelet Waldman, pulled up to the Brown Sugar Kitchen, a popular soul food restaurant in West Oakland recognized for its cornmeal waffles, in a tiny sky-blue Fiat. That became the first clue that he might be achingly hateable, because driving a Fiat whilst you are a global-well-known writer pronounces, I am not one of these guys who’s obsessed on a fast, fame-y car. That could be a thing that a macho guy with something to prove might be into, now not Michael Chabon. Instead, Michael Chabon is a man who hasn’t gotten over the Comic E book Membership assembly — he’s a real, unrepentant nerd, who has handiest ever been searching out his people. Of that sick-fated Club assembly, Chabon has written, “In my heart, to this day, I am usually sitting at a large table in a roomful of chairs, at the back of a pile of mistakes, lies, and exclamation points, looking an empty doorway. My story and my memories are all, in one way or some other, the identical, testimonies of solitude and the grand pursuit of connection, of success and the inevitability of defeat.”
Waldman — who’s tiny, with curly auburn hair piled on Top of her head, and glowing pores and skin — introduced herself and stated she’d be sitting On the nearby counter doing work. Chabon — taller, and sporting a blue-and-white flowered shirt, darkish jeans, black leather-based boots, and black-frame glasses — has a friendly, down-to-earth allure. Once we were brought about our desk, he gave the owner, Tanya Holland, who he has been pals with for years, a hug. (Chabon wrote the introduction to the eating place’s cookbook, which becomes published in 2014.) A resident of neighboring Berkeley, Chabon is an established Oakland booster — his 2012 novel Telegraph Street takes vicinity typically in the metropolis — and as we waited to place our order, Chabon gave me a quick history of the community. “This is nonetheless so…” He trailed off, gesturing vaguely around his head.
“Industrial?” I counseled. The eating place is on a hectic main street covered with junkyards and vehicle frame shops, although I’d noticed a couple of telltale signs of gentrification on my manner over — an espresso shop, twentysomethings on fancy bicycles My Live Updates.
“Mmhmm,” he stated. West Oakland becomes bifurcated through the construction of the close by the parkway, and in the grand, sad city subculture of neighborhoods being decimated by dual carriageway construction, it never truly recovered. “It ripped out the community a part of it and left this component,” Chabon stated. “So now in case you live right here, you need to power to this point to get groceries and all that sort of stuff.”
It’s now not sudden that Chabon could experience a sturdy connection to Oakland — he’s a champion of the underdog, of the misunderstood, of the neurotic. And Oakland is an underdog city, a place that hasn’t pretty gotten its truthful shake. Perhaps this is part of the motive why, in a second While the white novelist appears not pretty so ascendant, he has prevented the smugness of Jonathan Franzen or the clueless bluster of Lionel Shriver in a sombrero. That said, his sole attempt at a sincerely multicultural Extremely good American Novel, 2012’s Telegraph Avenue — a sprawling tale approximately a black record shop proprietor in Oakland and his wife, a pregnant midwife — did no longer resonate with readers inside the identical manner his previous work has. In Slate, Troy Patterson wrote that “Chabon has frequently been a softie; right here, his chin-up optimism approximately the human race proves on the whole ingratiating and definitely unsupportable in light of what we understand approximately real-life humans. His heart bleeds where you may need him to get some bile up; the man is simply too exceptional to strive whatever on the order of social satire.”