When Novelists Attack

In an article for Slate, I took a deeper look at the controversy surrounding Fredric Wertham and the postwar anti-comics crackdown. During the course of my article I made reference to Michael Chabon’s much-loved novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (where Wertham figures as a very minor character). Somewhat to my surprise, Chabon took umbrage at my reference to his novel. His response to my article (and my reply to him) can be found here.

The New York Observer, a gossipy Manhattan weekly, even did a write-up of the whole controversy (proof that this is a very slow, verging on comatose, news day). Rather unintentionally, I seem to have created a literary donnybrook.

I should say, not just in the interest of peace and goodwill but in all honesty, that I have nothing but the highest regard for Chabon as a writer.  

2 thoughts on “When Novelists Attack

  1. I enjoyed Kav and Clay very much, especially the earliest stuff about the golem. But one thing irked me quite a bit- The part where the guy gets the girl pregnant, and then takes off for the war and leaves his cousin to raise his kid. This is the major turning point of the book, the emotional lynchpin. And Chabon did it entirely off screen. He built right up to it and then skipped the interesting part, and next thing you know the guy’s in Antarctica. This to me is a little chickenshit to give a shot to a difficult scene.
    This has nothing to do with what you’re talking about, but I wonder if anyone else had this problem with the book.

  2. I’m probably in the minority here, & although I did like LOTS of things about Kavaliar & Clay, & think it is the most important fiction ever written about the comics’ industry, I found Chabon’s earlier book, WONDER BOYS, to be a tighter, more focused book about essentially the same issue: the burdens of creativity.

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