Chabon's Writing Shed
May 24, 1963
Today is the birthday of the American novelist and short-story writer Michael Chabon (“SHAY-bon”).
In 2000, Michael wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. Michael is married to the writer, Ayelet (“eye-YEll-it’”) Waldman, and together they have four children.
They also have a writing studio - a little shingled shed in the garden in their backyard - a place that writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Roald Dahl, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolf all used and enjoyed.
Michelle Slatella wrote about Chabon’s writing shed for Gardenista back in 2014. She wrote,
“After it was renovated by Berkeley design-build firm Friedman Brueggemeyer, the studio became Chabon’s exclusive retreat and the subject of his 2001 essay “A Fortress of One’s Own” in This Old House magazine.
[Ayelet said,] “We moved to that house when I had just started writing, and I hadn’t sold anything yet, so I didn’t think I deserved an office.”
[Michael countered] “Then I had terrible repetitive stress injuries, and arthritis in my pinky finger, so I got an office out of the house, but that was super lonesome.”So Michael said [to his wife],“Let’s share.”
“The studio has two separate but open work bays — [Ayelet’s] desk sits beneath a bulletin board she covered with color-coded notecards while…
[Michael] writes in an Eames Lounge and Ottoman (he rocks when he works). “First, he had a desk, but then he moved over to the Eames chair, and that invalid swing arm laptop table he has now,” says [Ayelet]. “It’s exactly like a dentist’s setup. He battles carpel tunnel syndrome, and this setup works for now.”
In his book Summerland, Michael wrote,
“Can you imagine an infinite tree?
...A tree whose roots snake down all the way to the bottomest bottom of everything?
...if you've ever looked at a tree you've seen how its trunk divides into boughs, which divide yet again to branches, which divide into twigs, which divide again into twiglings. The whole mess splaying out in all directions, jutting and twisting and zigzagging. At the tips of the tips you might have a million tiny green shoots, scattered like the sparks of an exploding skyrocket.”