Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Great Freakin' Book

If you like Conan...
If you like Elric...
If you like Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser...

...get yourself a copy of Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon. Pay off those library fines if you have to. Sell your plasma if you must.

This book is rollicking adventure in that classic style--and almost no one writes like that anymore. (Heck, not even Moorcock, and he's still around.) It's got a big guy and a little guy, so the obvious parallel is with Leiber's Fafhrd and Grey Mouser. But Chabon is a better writer, and the fantasy dial is set very low--low like in Howard's later Conan work. I very much got a "People of the Black Circle" (my favorite Conan story) vibe from this.

Yes, it's that Michael Chabon: The Wonder Boys guy, the Kavalier and Klay guy, etc. Chabon is always quick to defend "genre" fiction, and I think given his druthers, he'd write a bunch of good, pulpy stuff. It's clear that he's using his Wonder Boys fame and the glow of that Pulitzer Prize to satisfy some of his creative urges. And what a happy day when his creative urges happen to match something I crave to read! 

Chabon is a wordsmith, and you'll savor the way he strings together a sentence. But all his fancy wordsmithin' doesn't get in the way of the rollicking. You will burn through this book and wish it was twice as long.

And that's my only regret. He's Michael Chabon, dammit. He's not chained to his typewriter cranking more Gentlemen of the Road stories to sell to Weird Tales for three cents a word. This is probably the only one we get.

But--bright side time--we do get this really, really excellent book.

P.S. Wikipedia informs me that Gentlemen of the Road was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine in 2007. See, serialized! It doesn't get any pulpier than that.

Out of Context: "Are you the angel of death?"
"Even worse, fatty," the pale stranger said. "I'm the angel of fools."
Music: CSS, Cansei De Ser Sexy

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