Thursday, February 17, 2005

Chabon in Denver

Michael Chabon spoke recently in Denver, and Rake's Progress was there with pen in hand, giving us all the details this morning. I was particularly intestested in learning about Chabon's journey writing his first novel; his first ideas, the feedback, and even the technology:

Chabon's talk—for which I would have suggested the title "The Importance of Lying, The Pitfalls of Memory," after a couple phrases he used—turned out to be about the genesis of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. (Unfortunately, this is the only Chabon novel I haven't read, and if I'd known, I would have read that instead of The Final Solution last weekend. But I digress.) He began the book while living with his mother and step-father in the summer of 1985, right before entering Cal-Irvine's MFA program. The first attempts were pecked out in a humble little bunker he called "Ralph's room," after the previous occupant—he worked at an extremely high workbench, so he had to sit in a folding chair precariously perched on a steamer trunk, and composed on an Osborne 1a computer that he bought in 1983. The room smelled of "soil, coal dust, and bicycle grease." He was living somewhat under a cloud at that time, and described his skull that summer as full of "loneliness, homesickness, and women in short pants."

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