“lies and legends made flesh”

It’s World Series time, enough of a nudge for me to post a note I’ve been procrastinating about for too long.

A while back I listened to Michael Chabon reading his Summerland. Chabon does a wonderful job with the reading, and having browsed a few reviews of the book, I suspect that listening to him might be better than reading the book for yourself (which I have not).

Neil Gaiman gets it right.

Coyote, whenever he appears, which is too seldom, steals scenes with ease and aplomb. He’s Coyote, sure, and he’s Loki and Prometheus and probably Bugs Bunny and the Squire of Gothos as well: a force unto himself, who is having too much fun trying to bring about Ragnarok — delightfully Hobson-Jobsoned by Chabon into “Ragged Rock.”

Standout sequences include a magnificently gory chapter involving some unfortunate werewolves and the queen of the shaggurts — frost giants with “appetites vast and bloody” — and a storyline set within the tall-tale tradition, when Ethan and his team meet the Big Liars of Old Cat Landing, the tall-tale people, all “lies and legends made flesh . . . [who] hung around Old Cat landing, haunting its bars and brothels,” now sadly shrunken by time and disbelief: Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan and John Henry, Annie Christmas and the rest of them. It’s the place where Chabon comes closest to a genuine American mythopoeia, and it is very fine indeed.

Give Summerland a listen.

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