Friday, December 16, 2005

Inside-the-park home run

posted by Tim Walters @ 12:08 AM

Michael Chabon, Summerland. Given Chabon's reputation as a non-genre writer, I was somewhat surprised to find that this was a straight-down-the-middle YA fantasy, to the point of predictability. However, it's beautifully done, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Interesting that it's always baseball (and not, say, football or basketball) that gets fantasy novels written about it. I guess it's just too much fun to make the designated hitter rule a step toward Ragnarok.


At 8:49 AM, Blogger Todd T said...

I haven't read this yet - wanted to during the summer, and then summer got away from me.

As far as Chabon's genre creds, I think the illusory/marketing barrier between mainstream and genre may have misled you. Although a couple of his books are clearly not genre, he spends plenty of time in the genre - but gets sold on the mainstream shelf. (Why this doesn't happen to Crowley and Wolfe, I can't figure. Maybe it's all down to your first book pigeonholing you.) See THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, McSWEENEY'S MAMMOTH TREASURY OF THRILLING TALES, McSWEENEY'S ENCHANTED CHAMBER OF ASTONISHING STORIES (in which as editor he lures a lot of mainstream folks to try genre), plus some stories that really aren't genre but hinge on the werewolf legend. He wrote the intro to a recent edition of M.R. James stories. He appears at cons. THE FINAL SOLUTION is a Sherlock Holmes book.

Re fantasy baseball: although I think it ges overblown, I do think there's something to the idea that baseball is pastoral and backward-looking, which may lend itself to fable. But I have no trouble imagining a story about a strange fellow who appears in city pickup basketball games but no one knows where he then goes, or one that plays on the gladiatory spectacle aspects of football. I do wonder why these don't seem to exist (or am I just unaware of them). I have read a weird fishing story, but as in fishing, not that much happened: a strange fisherman in the night caught a strange man/fish/creature, the end. There are several ghost stories about cricket, but that's not far from baseball.

Have you read BRITTLE INNINGS by Michael Bishop?

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Tim Walters said...

He appears at cons.

Cool, he's not a Rowling- or Atwood-style denier then.

I think Crowley has been trying to cross over for quite a while now, he just hasn't really succeeded. Certainly The Translator and the new Byron thing were published and reviewed as straight fiction.

Wolfe, on the other hand, seems to have no interest in that. Crowley doesn't deny his genre roots, but Wolfe seems to revel in them, and while his writing is at the highest standard, he relies to some extent on his reader being familiar with sf & fantasy tropes (the more to warp them, of course).

I haven't read the Bishop; he's usually kind of a B+ writer for me. Always worthwhile, but not so thrilling that I make a point of seeking him out.

Which reminds me of the opposite case: I have Graham Joyce's The Facts Of Life on my to-read shelf; Jude at Borderlands recommended it as her favorite of his, and they didn't have Dark Sister in stock.


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