By Michael Chabon
The first work of Chabon's that I read was The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He writes intricate novels that are funny and touching and heartbreaking, but they're not simple. His characters tend to be creative types—which obviously resonates with me, given what I do—who are also conflicted. In this novel, a writer and college professor is endlessly working on a book and trying to live up to the success he had early in his career. Anybody who's had that experience, especially in an artistic endeavor, can identify: They think, "Was the first one a fluke?" That's much in the consciousness of the main character. He's also having issues with his relationships, his college, and the politics of his job. But the book isn't a downer. It's funny and interesting at the same time. And it was a great movie, too.