Michael Chabon feels the flow

By CLEA SIMON  |  September 28, 2012

YOU’VEALWAYS WRITTEN VERY DETAILED, FULL SENTENCES. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS, OR DO YOU KEEP ADDING, REWRITE AFTER REWRITE?
Sometimes the sentences come out that way, and that is a wondrous thing. Most of the time, what you read is the product of a lot of rewriting. I write and rewrite and rewrite again — I look at the sentence as a fundamental unit not just of my narrative but also of the pleasure I take in writing. I take a lot of care and time in my sentences, and then I take a lot of care and time of my paragraphs as elemental units. I take time and care with that. I build outward from the sentence — the topmost step would be the overall structure of the book itself.

THIS BOOK SEEMS PARTICULARLY DENSELY WRITTEN.
In Yiddish Policeman’s Union, I worked to hone and trim and shorten my sentences and strip them down a little bit from my accustomed more natural sentence, because I was trying to write in this hardboiled detective tradition. It doesn’t have to be utterly plain: Raymond Chandler wasn’t a plain writer, but shorter, pithier sentences were more the style. Maybe partly as a result of that book, with this one I really let myself go. Partly that’s my natural gait. And also, I was working with this background of music — of jazz — so there was a sinuousness and a flow. I also listened to so much hip-hop when I was working on this book, and I’ve always been drawn to the MCs with flow — Rakim and Big Daddy Kane and the guys in Organized Konfusion. That was an inspiration to me, so I think with a lot of these sentences I was experiencing that sense of flow.

MICHAEL CHABON :: Book signing, Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline :: October 3 @ 7 pm [6 pm Coolidge Corner Theatre reading sold out] :: brooklinebooksmith.com 

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