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Monday, November 24, 2008

Chabon at Beth Israel

Posted by Alison Hallett on Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 1:56 PM

Agggh. Michael Chabon was in town this weekend and NO ONE TOLD ME. For some reason, I'm not on Congregation Beth Israel's press contact list. Chabon spoke on Sunday as part of Beth Israel's 150-year anniversary lecture series; the always illuminating Art Scatter has the scoop:

His lecture was sweet and funny and autobiographical, pausing to take in the usual subjects that bedevil parents, especially fathers -- the way they so easily are reduced to walking cliche machines, for example. Chabon has four kids and they provided the material for the lecture, they taught the lessons, they inspired the fear and occasional melancholy and contentment he talked about. My favorite line: "Children collapse time and space around them." The story he told to illustrate this was about his daughter Sophie's Bas Mitzvah: In the full excitement and flush of ritual, he told her, "This is our life happening and it is happening right now." Children are an invitation into the Right Now, and what I took from Chabon is that in the Right Now, there aren't so many regrets.

My second favorite line came during the Q&A, when someone asked him where he started his novels, beginning, middle or end. "I start at the beginning, and that's as far as I ever get."

So instead of listening to one of my favorite writers talk about circumcision, I spent my Sunday evening watching JCVD (which is, actually, really great), and Googling Jean Claude Van Damme videos. Thanks, Beth Israel.


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