Saturday, February 18, 2006

From behind 1.86

Here is a sample, chosen at random from my career as a reader: the engagement of the interior ear by the rhythm and pitch of an original prose style; the dawning awareness that gigantic mutant rat people dwell in the walls of a ruined abbey in England; two hours spent bushwhacking through a densely packed argument about the structures of power embodied in nineteenth-century prison architecture; the consummation of a great love aboard a lost Amazonian riverboat or in Elizabethan slang; the intricate fractal patterning of motif and metaphor in Nabokov and Neil Gaiman; stories of pirates, zeppelins, sinister children; a thousand-word-long sentence comparing homosexuals to the Jews in a page of Proust; a duel to the death with broadswords on the sea-coast of ancient Zingara; the outrageousness of whale slaughter or mule slaughter in Melville or Cormac McCarthy; the outrageousness of Dr. Charles Bovary's clubfoot-correcting device; word written in smoke across the London sky on a day in June 1923; a momentary gain in my own sense of shared despair, shared nullity, shared rapture, shared loneliness, shared brokenhearted glee; the recounting of a portentous birth, a disastrous wedding, or a midnight deathwatch onthe Neva.
Michael Chabon, "Introduction", The Best American Short Stories 2005, xiv-xv.


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