Friday, October 06, 2006

Michael Chabon's model

I own more books by Michael Chabon than any other author save for Nick Hornby, and I just finished reading Chabon's first anthology, A Model World and Other Stories.

At 24, I still haven't gotten over the delusion that I could become a writer one day. Reading Chabon's A Model World, or any other of his books, for that matter, fills me with a terrible sense of envy. He weaves such terribly beautiful words, even as he talks about doomed love, dysfunctional relationships, and people falling apart. I could only dream about such eloquence.

In the story "S Angel", which is about a young man preparing to attend his cousin's wedding, he writes:

Ira never went anywhere without expecting that when he arrived there he would meet the person with whom he was destined to fall in love.

Later on, he describes Ira's cousin, the bride:

She seemed pleased enough--smiling and flushed and mad to be wearing that dazzling dress--but she didn't look like she was in love, as he imagined love to look. Her eye was restive, vaguely troubled, as though she were trying to remember exactly who this man was with his arms around her waist, tipping her backward on one leg and planting a kiss on her throat.

Even later, we see Ira spotting a friend of his cousin's, an older woman, with whom he becomes infatuated.

And yet, it was her look of disillusion, of detachment, those stoical blue eyes in the middle of that lovely, beaten face, that most attracted him. It would be wrong to love her, he could see that; but he believed that every great love was in some measure a terrible mistake.

In another story called "Ocean Avenue", about a couple who could only be happy as they made each other miserable, Chabon opens with this line:

If you can still see how you could have once have loved a person, you are still in love; an extinct love is always wholly incredible.

In another story, Chabon's hero is married to a beautiful immigrant to help her acquire citizenship:

I admired her. Initially, it was only that--a marriage of admiration and desperation, made for neither money nor love... Had I not breached our contract by actually falling in love, we would still be in Texas, counting the days, but here we are, in the capital of France, waiting for her heart, or mine, to undertake a change.

Sometimes, I try to write that way, but all I can come up are corny lines like this:

He was swamped with deadlines to beat at work and papers to write for school, and it wasn't until the end of the day that he would think about what he'd have for her desk the next morning. He was old enough and, for the most part, smart enough to know that happiness shouldn't be tied to another person. And yet, there really was no getting around the fact; thinking about her was the happiest part of his day.


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de ah


Ako din feeling writer. Haha! Pero I like what you wrote naman ah.


You won't be a writer, but it won't be for lack of talent, but for lack of taste. Chabon is a good enough writer (he BECAME one) but this collection was not particularly well-written, showed everywhere evidence of its author's greenness, and none of the passages you quoted are particularly good. They're all rather pedestrian. But you were wowed by them. That's not good.


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