Summerland

by Michael Chabon. It’s been a while since I had to stay up past my bedtime to finish a book. Summerland was a nice breath of fresh air though my brain, a good way to welcome in the spring. Chabon’s first children’s novel doesn’t quite have the breadth of Kavalier and Clay, but it has inventiveness to spare. I didn’t find it as delightful as Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but it was fun, witty, and pulled me along for the ride.

Unlike Neil Gaiman, who’s Ragnarok-inspired American Gods delighted me with its innovative moderization of ancient pantheons, Chabon conflates the Native American Coyote with Loki, conjures up a mournful She-Sasquatch, and adds a healthy dose of English folk magic as well. A good original fantasy is beholden to no particular mythos, and Chabon picks and chooses his cultural references with gleeful abandon. Part of the joy for me as an adult reader was picking out these folkloric references.

The only downside in my opinion was that the whole book was about baseball. Everyone (giants, werefoxes, and Coyote himself) plays baseball, and I’m just not a baseball fan. Perhaps it’s an even stronger endorsement of the book that I liked it despite its obsession with our national game.

I’m now re-motivated to look at some of my old plays, including A Head For Ganesh to see if I can whittle down the lumpiness therein. There’s a world of difference between a novel and a play, but they both try to tell a story, and in this case, both in a magical way.

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One thought on “Summerland

  1. I just finished this book and enjoyed it. As you know, I’m becoming more of a baseball fan through osmosis from my wife, and there definitely is something to Chabon’s idea that baseball is the perfect way to capture the cadence of a summer day. It was a bit ponderous, but the Harry Potter books have been trending in that direction as well. It kind of felt like Chabon was channelling Gaiman for the Harry Potter set.

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