Tuesday, May 13, 2008
GENTLEMAN OF THE ROAD
I was very pleased to find out on less than 24 hours notice that one of my favorite authors, living or putrifying, was coming to BookPeople (the greatest bookstore in Austin and, I think, largest independent dealer in the country, which is wonderful though it means few if any 20% OFF-type situations, ouch!). I had an interview on UT campus for a class that I'm going to be teaching in the fall and then at lunchtime I saw that Matthew Sturges was going to be signing #1 of his excellent new comic series HOUSE OF MYSTERY that afternoon, so I steamrolled it all together, knocked out the interview, ran up to Austin Books and got Sturges to sign the copy of his book that I'd already bought that morning (having been sold on it at the Vertigo presentation last July in San Diego, and it's killer), then for good measure bought another copy for him to sign to Chabon, which amused and delighted him, everybody's a fan. Went ahead and purchased ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #10 (greatest single issue I can recall reading in the recent past, and beyond!) for Chabon while I was at it and made my way to BookPeople after catching up with a burger and shake from Dirty Martin's, one of the greatest places on The Drag.
Got there an hour early. Bought the new collection of essays MAPS & LEGENDS, the first essay of which I'd read years ago in the McSweeney's #10 that Chabon edited, but was surprised now to find that it's almost a call to arms to bust down the walls between genres in short stories, which I've been hard at work at since last July with the blackholemonster of Idea that took for its name OMNINOMICON. I got the last chair on the front row and after rereading that first essay managed to knock out three pages of my latest Faulkner riff before it was showtime. Sat by some lesbians that were not taking shit from anybody, I just slammed away at my PowerBook, hoping they wouldn't tumble to the fact that I was writing some deeply misogynistic business.
Chabon came out and got right to it, read the chapter from YIDDISH POLICEMAN'S UNION of Landsman eating with Bina, and it was probably the best performance by an author that I've seen, not that I've sat through that many. But he really conveyed the characters' emotion well without overdoing it or hamming it up. Such a great novel, an insane accomplishment.
Afterwards, he took questions. Guy asked if he'd ever write a sequel following Landsman, Chabon said he couldn't see that, but maybe a prequel. The book he's working on now is adult (he hates saying that, conjures up the 70s wah-pedal) and then the next one will be for young readers. The status of the Kavalier & Clay movie is flatline for now. The comics he's been loving lately are all catchups, PLANETARY (#4 of all time, on my list), and Morrison's ANIMAL MAN and INVISIBLES, both of which I just managed to catch up on in '07 and '06 respectively (and, frankly, need to reread INVISIBLES again, talk about yer mindfucks). And he said determing point-of-view is easily the most important decision in writing a story. True words.
I was second in line, got to BS with him a minute, gave him the comics (along with a rough cut of THE IDEA #1) and thanked him for charging my imagination and he couldn't have been nicer, even got out from behind the desk for a quick picture.
Pretty great day, even without 15 new comics at home, waiting.
Posted by rb at 1:58 PM