Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Chabon Gives UB Reading
The airline may have lost his luggage on his way to UB, but it didn’t douse Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s dry-but-piercing sense of humor when he spoke on two occasions to University audiences April 23.
UB’s Klein Family School of Communications Design writer in residence, Chabon is an author for all seasons, having written acclaimed novels (Wonder Boys; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, for which he won the Pulitzer; Telegraph Avenue) and short stories across multiple genres.
At UB, the season was most decidedly summer. During an intimate, witty conversation with M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts students, Chabon recalled that his success as an author is rooted in a manuscript—mostly abandoned and rewritten—that he began the summer before he started graduate school at the University of California, Irvine. It eventually became his thesis and then his breakthrough novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. “The most exhilarating thing that can happen,” he said about the book-writing process, “is you actually know what you’re doing.”
In his free, public reading later that evening, Chabon—who commits to writing 1,000 words a day—recounted stories of his childhood summers growing up in Columbia, Maryland, culminating in a recitation of his short story “Switzerland Today.” It recalls a sweltering Maryland summer when the protagonist, as a young boy, was “banished” to his grandparents’ home only to have surprising interactions with a neighborhood boy whom he originally rejected because of a disability. “Memories are not stories,” Chabon said to the standing-room-only crowd. “Stories have reasons.”