Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blinded by the light. But it's only temporary

When you fancy yourself a writer, it complicates the pastime of reading for pleasure. Like it or not, you end up judging every book with the eye of a technician. I inevitably have one of two reactions: "Hell, I could do better than this" (to which the inner voice replies, "then why didn't you?"); or "I could not write this well in a million years" (to which the inner voice replies, "You're finally starting to get it").

I'm having the second reaction to "The Yiddish Policeman's Union," which I mention below. While I'm thoroughly enjoying this book, it's also kind of depressing to be reminded so forcefully that there is such a thing as innate talent, and that some people have a lot more of it than others. Michael Chabon puts more pathos, humor and insight into a single paragraph than I've been able to do in a thousand of them. He's a fine writer to read, but a daunting one to compare oneself against.

I guess it's more helpful to reflect on the thousands of lesser writers who are filling up Barnes and Nobles all over the country, and who are making nice livings despite their lesser talents. We can't all be excellent, but we can aim for it. And now, back to the book.

1 comment:

franQ said...

Hearing all this talk of the new Chabon release makes me a little sad…

A year ago, I would have been thrilled and no doubt attended his book signing. He’s been my favorite author since I first read his debut novel THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH back in the early 90s.

But I can no longer support the work of an author who has no regard for the story and characters that put him on the literary map.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a film version of MOP coming out later this year… Written and directed by the guy who brought us DODGEBALL, in which he’s CHANGED 85% of Chabon’s original story.

And the sad part is… Michael Chabon himself APPROVED of the script! WHY would he do this? I can only think of one possible answer: $$

If you are a Chabon fan, esp MOP, I suggest you do NOT see this movie. You will be sadly disappointed at the COMPLETE removal of the gay character, Arthur Lecomte, and the fabrication of a romantic love triangle between Art Bechstein, Jane Bellwether, and a bi-sexual Cleveland Arning. And really, what is MOP without the presence of Phlox Lombardi? Alas, she’s barely in it.

For a copy of the script email: bechstein[at]yahoo[dot]com