So you re-commit yourself to reading actual books, with actual spines and bookmarks and ISBNs, and sure enough: Words that were clinging to the walls of your brain prom are suddenly out dancing with abandon. Leave it to a singular talent like Michael Chabon to spike the punch.
I feel good about finally getting on with his latest novel, which, if you're a fan, is as vivid and delightful as you might expect. I saw Chabon at the 92nd Street Y last fall, and if you were there, too, I was the guy who asked the last question of the night. It was about screenwriting, and how it differed from novel writing (because Chabon has a writing credit for Spider-Man 2, and he's adapting Kavalier & Clay). At which point Chabon's already-bright eyes brightened, and he smiled that crocodile smile, and said one of the big thrills of his life, as a comic-book enthusiast, was when Sam Raimi called and said, "Spidey needs you."
I've been a fan of Chabon's since I read "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" during my first, terrible year out of college, and he's still one of a handful of authors whose work I would buy, sight unseen. The difference with his current book, though, is the preponderance of Yiddish terms and slang; I'm so up to my navel in sholems and shtinkers and shtarkers and shammeses that I've made a little translation card and used it as a bookmark.
Up next at the Y for me: A
bar-room brawl discussion between Christopher Hitchens and a rabbi over whether God exists. Do you think they'll sell popcorn?