I know it still seems incongruous, first of all, for me or a writer of my literary training, generation and pretensions to be writing stories featuring anybody with swords. As recently as 10 years ago, I had published two novels, and perhaps as many as 20 short stories, and not one of them featured weaponry more antique than a (lone) Glock 9mm. None was set any earlier than about 1972 or in any locale more far-flung or exotic than a radio studio in Paris, France.Goodness, I love that fellow's writing, I must get Gentlemen of the Road immediately--in fact, there, I've shopping-carted it...
Most of those stories appeared in sedate, respectable and generally sword-free places like The New Yorker and Harper's, and featured unarmed Americans undergoing the eternal fates of contemporary short story characters — disappointment, misfortune, loss, hard enlightenment, moments of bleak grace. Divorce; death; illness; violence, random and domestic; divorce; bad faith; deception and self-deception; love and hate among fathers and sons, men and women, friends and lovers; the transience of beauty and desire; divorce — I guess that about covers it. Story, more or less, of my life.
As for the two novels, they didn't stray in time or space any farther than the stories — or for that matter, any deeper into the realm of Jewishness: both set in Pittsburgh, liberally furnished with Pontiacs and Fords, scented with marijuana, Shalimar and kielbasa, featuring Smokey Robinson hits and Star Trek references, and starring gentiles or assimilated Jews, many of whom were self-consciously inspired, instructed and laid low by the teachings of rock and roll and Hollywood but not, for example, by the lost writings of the tzaddik of Regensburg whose commentaries are so important to one of the heroes of Gentlemen of the Road.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Jews with swords
At the Telegraph, Michael Chabon on his new swashbuckling epic and his movement away from naturalism: