Friday, October 9, 2009

Michael Chabon

From Barnes & Noble Review contributor Cameron Martin's email interview with Michael Chabon, about his newest book, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Sons:

Barnes & Noble Review: The majority of the essays in this collection first appeared in Details magazine. How did that column originate? Did you and the editors hash out a template for the type of material you'd regularly address or were you given carte blanche?

Michael Chabon: I was first approached by the magazine's editor in chief, Dan Peres, back in early 2001. At the time I didn't feel that a monthly column was a burden I wanted to assume. When Dan came back to me four years later with the same proposition, I eagerly accepted. Evidently something had changed during the interval. The births of two more Chabon children, with their associated expenses, may have had played a certain part.

From the beginning there was no set subject or theme. Peres and Details were incredibly generous and tolerant and supportive, and I never got any kind of directive or guidance to try to tailor my pieces to please a particular readership, or anything like that.

BNR: In "The Story of Our Story," you said the birth of your brother, when you were five, signaled the beginning of your storytelling career. "I had learned to work a record player, tell lies, read the funny pages, and feel awkward at parties. But it was not until that morning, in early September 1968, that my story truly began. Until my brother was born, I had no one to tell it to." If you'd been an only child, how do you think your interest and confidence in storytelling would have evolved? Would it have developed later, as you made school friends? Were other influences -- your parents, other relatives -- in line to foster this interest, or do you think it would have been nipped in the bud without the presence of a younger sibling who saw you in a "heroic light"?

MC: This is one counterfactual that is really difficult to imagine. Certainly many of our best storytellers have been only children, so it's not like it's a sine qua non. And...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue