Our reading this week is called Werewolves in Their Youth, by Michael Chabon. In case the name is unfamiliar to you, Chabon is an acclaimed fiction writer who crosses genre boundaries with ease. His most notable books include an alternate history novel, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,” the Pulitzer-prize winning “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” and my personal favorite, a rollicking adventure novel set in mid-900’s southern Russia called “Gentlemen of the Road.”
Ari brings us this short story, a literary fiction piece about two outcast boys in elementary school and their uncomfortable friendship. In addition to reading this piece, you should listen to the ‘Kid Logic’ podcast from “This American Life”, which includes a reading of “Werewolves in Their Youth”. Here are the questions Ari has given us to think about as we read:
- Michael Chabon does a lot of interplay between genres. He obviously has a fascination with sci-fi, horror, and pulp genres, but somehow his writing still ends up categorized as literary. What are some ways he treads the line between genre fiction and literary fiction? Does “Werewolves in Their Youth” give credence to genre fiction or trivialize it?
- How does “kid logic” work in a world where adults fall short? What does the story highlight about a kid’s experiences with trauma?
- When I applied as an intern at NaNoWriMo, my 6-word review of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was “Chabon can’t write a boring sentence.” Did you find any sort of stylistic aspect of the story that struck you?
- Chabon has also been critiqued for his sentences, and the way they border on over-cleverness. Would you say the critique is valid? How might a writer tread the line between interesting and new, and overly clever.
- “Werewolves in Their Youth” attempts an honest perspective of a child, while also maintaining a strong stylistic voice. Does this work? Does the language impede the perspective or bring it to life? How might a writer do both successfully?
Enjoy the story, and feel free to comment!