If fans of what is commonly referred to as “genre fiction” ever try to storm the gates that protect capital L Literature from the marauding hordes, I predict that it will be Michael Chabon who leads the charge. In the sixteen essays contained in Maps and Legends (McSweeney’s), Chabon comes to the defence of (among other things): comic books, science fiction, Sherlock Holmes, fantasy fiction, ghost stories and horror fiction. Chabon’s own genre-defying success with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 2001) and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (an “alternate history mystery” published in 2007) demonstrate that “popular success” and “critical success” need not be mutually exclusive categories. Chabon is an impassioned advocate for the things he loves to read and write. His essays reminded me of an afternoon in 1995, when I sat in a darkened conference room in Vancouver with a few hundred others, listening—rapt—while Ray Bradbury gave the keynote speech. He was like an old revival preacher, thumping the podium, holding us captive as he spoke of the sharp sorrow and the deep sense of loss he’d felt when peer pressure forced him—at age eleven or so—to repudiate his boyhood loves: Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant and their kin. And then in his inimitable Bradbury style he told us how he’d come to see the light and reclaimed these (first, true) literary loves: in a carnival tent when Mr. Electrico had touched young Ray with his sword, made his hair stand on end and sparks fly from his ears, and exhorted him to “Live forever!” Chabon and Bradbury both say the same thing: to hell with labels; read what you love.