by Colin (’16)
It’s funny how even the most experienced writers are constantly bewildered by their own methods and their own creations. At the Herbst Theater, myself and a few other SOTA students had the wonderful opportunity to hear Michael Chabon speak about his life, his books, and his ability to year after year perform his duties as both a father and as a novelist. It was a very full evening, and many topics were discussed in detail: he recalled with tender feeling the way in which he wrote his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; he talked about the personality and actions of his children (and of his memories of early childhood) that might have bled through into his young characters, giving them a realism that could otherwise not be achieved; and he talked about other writers and their methods in stark contrast with his own. There was nothing he didn’t talk about, and no facet of his literary career was hidden away. And the interviewer, the conversation starter, was none other than Adam Savage, the bearded engineer/artist/theorist/brain/goofball/science-teacher/inventor on Mythbusters!
Our group saw Chabon from afar, our seats elevated above him so that he looked like a dwarf among a forest of redwoods, but it didn’t matter because his words reverberated throughout the theater with intensity and, often, true fascination. In many ways, talking about his writing and his literary idols (Raymond Chandler being one of them) appeared as a liberating event for the renowned author. This could be regarded as a sort of narcissism, but it was really a public reflection on his career and his life, and the crowd loved it. The simple viewing of two men talking inspired sitting ovations and brought upon hearty laughs. When Chabon was asked questions by the audience, he answered them with honesty and elaborate detail, making it equally about the person asking the question and himself. The author, throughout it all, never made a play at being humble, but did truly understand that people were watching him with adoring eyes for a reason, and that he had something legitimate and interesting to say to them. Overall, it was a very pleasant evening. Thank you Ronald Chase and Art & Film.