Although I read quite a lot, I've never been that interested in reading about writers or writing. I usually don't care too much about the person behind the words, and the more I learn about the process of getting those words into my hands, the less power the writing tends to have over me. That said, Michael Chabon could write the phonebook and I'd probably check it out -- his command of prose and genre are such that he could probably craft a pretty intriguing story out of the yellow pages. So, when I saw the stunningly beautiful cover of this collection of essays, I picked it up and brought it home, completely unconcerned with the contents. The essays (many of which appeared previously in such publications as The New York Review of Books, McSweeney's, Civilization, and Architectural Digest) fall into a few broad and sometimes overlapping categories: reviews/appreciations, in defense of genre, and influences his own work. In the first category are eloquent pieces on Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Ben Katchor's graphic novel Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, Howard Chaykin's comic American Flagg, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, M.R. James' ghost stories, D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths, and comics legend Will Eisner. Actually, that list gives one a pretty good sense of just why Chabon has been so gung-ho about championing genre literature, as he does in several essays here. I've always agreed with his belief that genre writers tend to be critically marginalized, so none of his arguments were particularly fresh to me. However, for someone who's never really thought about it, they're probably the most articulate defense of genre available. Some may find his tone on this subject a little strident for their taste, but it never really rubbed me the wrong way (although, again, I agree with him). Finally, the essays about the genesis of his own books are excellent -- although probably better appreciated once you've read the books themselves. On the whole, the book is best for existing fans of Chabon, although most avid readers will discover individual essays that appeal to them.