This book is part memoir, part musing on books that straddle the divide between “regular” fiction, and genre fiction (sci fi, fantasy, comics, etc). Chabon’s considered a “regular” fiction author (I guess getting a Pulitzer does that), though he’s written books that would definitely be considered genre if other people had written them. He’s also not one of those “regular” authors that gets all huffy if you dare suggest they might be slumming it by even touching that tainted pool of books not included in “real” fiction bucket. (Are my biases showing?)
Several chapters are meditations on other works – Sherlock Holmes, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Material series, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I found those all interesting – especially the chapter on The Road. That’s the only McCarthy I’ve read, so it was nice to see Chabon’s views on how that fits in with McCarthy’s other work. (That book guaranteed I’d probably not read anything else of his. It was lovely, but I do not need to be that depressed by a whole book.)
There are also some interesting chapters about how being Jewish has impacted the author’s work – I don’t share that faith (and frankly, culture – being Jewish is so much more than the faith), so that was interesting.
All in all, I’m not sure I’d recommond this book to anyone that hasn’t read any other works by this author – there’s enough personal material that that’s primary, but if you have read some of his books, you can see his motivations, and get some other musing on genre fiction.