(Cross posted by Danny on I’ve Only Been Wrong Twice)

I have to admit: Michael Chabon was one of the main draws for me to come to this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing. He’s been a huge… not influence, but inspiration, of mine for the last few years. His ability to make heroes of out ordinary people, out of the ordinary in general, I think speaks to a few of the artistic ideals I hope come through some of my work.

Most of Chabon’s lecture initiated around the search for Home: his own, and the Jewish background he comes from. His story took us through his finding a book, tucked at the bottom shelf of a bookstore: Say it in Yiddish. Among over 13,000 entries ranging from dental care to finding a social security cards, to the subway, he wonders when in history could a collection like this be actually applied to the Yiddish language, or the people who use it.

Chabon finds some sort of sense of home comparing the vast possibilities of a collection of phrases, and the imaginary collection – in Chabon’s head – that would possibly be able to create a world which could use it.

It’s in that space, between perspective and the imaginary, where Chabon finds his home as a genre artist and fictionalist. And his process, much like magical realism, it seems to point to what he needs to get from his work in the gaps between extremes.


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