Kim and I are reading Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue together this month, along with anyone else who wants to read it with us. Discussions are here at The 3 R’s Blog as noted–
and on Twitter at #readchabon.
Last week, I mentioned a few of the questions that this novel was making me ask myself, and before we move on, I wanted to get back to them and share a few of the responses.
“Do I really think that writers should only write from their own personal experiences? No, I don’t, unless they’re writing memoirs.
So maybe this is the better question: Do I think it’s presumptuous for a novelist to write and voice characters informed by a background that he couldn’t really know from personal experience? And when I don’t have that background or experience either myself, how can I assess its authenticity? Or should that even be one of the things I assess?”
The comments suggested that perhaps it’s not really a general matter of a
novelist writing from outside personal experience–as Jeanne noted, this applies to pretty much anything written in genres such as science fiction and fantasy–as it is a more specific response to writing about race, which continues to be a complex and fraught subject for Americans. As Harri3etspy reflected:
“I think the unease is not about the author writing outside his personal experience but about race specifically. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the considerable wake of reading Richard Powers’ The Time of Our Singing, wrestling with my own expectations. Mostly, I think, it comes down to the thing you mentioned in your last comment above, Florinda — that I can’t imagine asking some of those questions or addressing some of those issues without that experience. And yet as Jeanne points out, why should race necessarily be different than any other type of experience? Maybe because it’s so hard to put on? It’s not just about who you are and what you do but what people hand back to you about yourself.”
I’m not completely done reading Section IV as I prepare this post for Monday morning, but it hasn’t raised as many philosophical questions for me. This part’s been much more about the story, and as promised, it’s also been about spending more time with the women. I still have the sense that Chabon’s more interested in Gwen than in Aviva, but we’ve seen more development of both. I’m less interested in the boys at this point than the writer is.
I’m still loving the writing, and when that’s the case, I’m not really a reader who needs a lot of plot. That said, I have a sense that the story is building toward something–but I’m still not sure what, and I have an uncomfortable feeling it may turn out not to be much of anything. I’m thoroughly along for the ride, but at this point, there’s not that much of it left, and I’m less certain of where we’ll end up than I was last week.
If you’re reading–or have already read–Telegraph Avenue, we’d love to have you join our #readchabon conversation. We’ll be wrapping things up next Tuesday, May 7.
A hiking trail in Simi Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Time: Mid-morning, Sunday. Starting this at 9:40 AM with the hope to be done before 10:30, especially since not much has changed since last Sunday. (Finishing at 11:25 AM, thanks to assorted distractions.) Place: At my dining room table in Simi Valley, California, where it’s sunny and 63 degrees, with a forecast high of 82. (Again, not much change since last week…) Eating: Toast with Nutella, or […]
Today’s one of those days when I invite you to see what I’m doing somewhere else! So, what is Book Bloggers International exactly anyway? Well, here’s the idea: There are SO, so, so many book bloggers all over the world and it is impossible for each of us to find each other via links on other people’s blogs and social networking sites alone. We thought it would be a practical and fun idea to create […]
…or any other naturally-produced fabric, most likely. (I’m fudging this week’s prompt because I couldn’t find a satisfactory depiction of “Cotton.” I hope the rest of the LUWW gang can do better!) ALF and FriendsRose Bowl Flea Market, Pasadena CA, April 2010 My photo, edited with Snapseed document.write(”); Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Join 2,312 other subscribers Email […]
Kim and I are reading Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue together this month, along with anyone else who wants to read it with us. Discussions are here at The 3 R’s Blog as noted– April 15: Section I (through page 124)April 22: Sections I and III (through page 250)April 29: Section IV (through page 381)May 7: Section V (through page 465) and on Twitter at #readchabon. In the comments on last week’s discussion, Kim asked: “Which of […]
Time: 10:14 AM, as I complete this for posting Place: At my dining room table is Simi Valley, California, where the current temperature is 67 degrees and today’s forecast high is 81. The sun is out and the screen doors are open. Eating: A mix of oatmeal and Kashi cereal, mixed with lots of sliced strawberries–spring is here and the price of strawberries is dropping!–and Trader Joe’s Crumpets with Nutella Drinking: Water and sweetened, milky black […]
Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle Rachel Dratch (Twitter) Gotham (February 2013), Paperback (ISBN 1592407579 / 9781592407576) Nonfiction/memoir, 272 pages Source: Purchased audiobook (Penguin Audio, 2012; Audible ASIN B007R6B0AY) Reason for reading: Personal Opening lines: “‘Hey, I know you!’ said the stranger. “I was on Third Avenue in New York, emerging from the Starbucks. “The stranger turned to his friend and nudged him. ‘Do you know […]
Shades of sunny yellow on a cloudy day at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Irwindale, CA My photos, edited with Snapseed and collaged with PicFrame Posted with Blogsy document.write(”); Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Join 2,312 other subscribers Email Address Subscribe
Kim and I are reading Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue together this month, along with anyone else who wants to read it with us. Discussions are here at The 3 R’s Blog and on Twitter at #readchabon, although we haven’t actually discussed much there yet. This week’s goal was to get through the first of the book’s five sections (through page 124), and I was pleased to make it there before the last minute on Sunday night. […]
This format had been appropriated from Kim and Heather, and possibly some other bloggers–I’ve been seeing it in Sunday Salon posts for a little while. Time // 8:50 PM, Wednesday, April 10 Place // On the sofa, next to my husband, in front of the TV Eating // Nothing right now. Had a veggie burger and chips for dinner, and two Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (Easter treats!) for dessert Drinking // Water (water everywhere) Reading […]
So what if it’s the middle of the week. Everybody have fun tonight! Photo collage created with PicFrame document.write(”); Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Join 2,312 other subscribers Email Address Subscribe
Oleander Girl: A Novel Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Free Press (March 2013), hardcover (ISBN 1451695659 / 9781451695656) Fiction, 304 pages A version of this review was previously published in Shelf Awareness for Readers (March 29, 2013). Shelf Awareness provided a galley of this book (furnished by the publisher) in order to facilitate the review, and compensated me for its original publication. Opening lines: “I’m swimming through a long, underwater cavern flecked with blue light, the cavern […]