Judging from his new nonfiction collection, “Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands,” there’s no denying Michael Chabon, author of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” is among the most passionate lovers of reading for pleasure.
It’s no secret that the literary author loves comic books and genre fiction “ mystery, sci-fi, horror “ upon which the smarter-than-thou literati frowns. Such works are not a bad thing, he argues, and asks readers over and over again in the 16 pieces collected here to get over the idea that, say, a detective story is not “real” literature.
He champions the fantasy novels of Philip Pullman (“The Golden Compass”), paying touching tribute to graphic-novel godfather Will Eisner (“The Spirit”) and recalling the joy of reading mythology as a child. Chabon also pointedly takes up the cause of cementing Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon as a worthy classic.
Other pieces explore:the bleak novels of Cormac McCarthy, the ghost stories of M.R. James, the comic books of Howard Chaykin, the writing process surrounding his debut novel, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” and the construction and sighting of golems.
It may be overkill to digest the whole of “Maps and Legends” in one sitting, so instead, take the time to consider each on its own. Also spend considerable, precious minutes appreciating Jordan Crane’s elaborate jacket art, lovingly comprised of three separate, die-cut covers that must be viewed on their own, yet combine to form a visually satisfying whole. It’s sublime design, for a book and author that merit such craftsmanship and attention.