I picked up Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends, Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands. I really, really wanted to love this book. Who wouldn’t? A creatively unique storyteller’s take on my favorite topics? No brainer.
Perhaps I’m too blue collar. The first essay, an exploration of books as entertainment, was a slog for me. I think it had to do with two things: references to people and books I was clueless about and having to stop every five lines to look up a word’s meaning. True confessions: I didn’t know what solipsistically, or ontological, or lambency or parturition meant. And I only kind of knew what decoct and saturnine meant. So instead of feeling edified, I finished the essay wearing a saturnine expression.
What are your experiences with encounters like this? What word choice responsibilities do writers have to their readers?
Or should I just suck it up and pay more attention to the Increasing Your Word Power section in the Reader’s Digest at my dentist’s office?