Chabon on Summerland

What I came to see I was writing about, which is something that's of great concern to me as a parent, is what I see as the lost adventure of childhood. I remember a childhood that was the kind of childhood that people had been having in the United States going back at least four or five generations before me. It was rooted in independence and freedom. I'd just go out in the morning on Saturday morning and say "Bye, Mom" and I'd be gone all day long.

She wouldn't know where you were.

She would not have the faintest idea where I was, and I'd come home for dinner. And I'd get into a lot of trouble, no doubt about it, and probably almost died a couple of times, but still that's the world. It dovetailed so completely with what I read, so when I went out to play I could go play in Narnia or I could go play in the Virginia wilderness of George Washington's boyhood if I was reading a biography of George Washington. There was a seamlessness between the world of literature and fantasy and the world that I was living and playing in. That really mirrored what was going on in the fantasy worlds themselves, where there was a seamlessness and a porousness between, say, England and Narnia.

Or even something like Tom Sawyer. Even though I wasn't a boy, there was a Tom Sawyer element to my childhood. Our mother didn't know where we were half the time and there was so much more undeveloped land to play on.

There was more undeveloped land and so much more free space. And now so much of the space we put our children into is created by adults for children. It's licensed by adults, patrolled and permitted by adults. There's nowhere for them to disappear into. They're under surveillance all the time. It's that idea of that lost ... that's the Summerlands, to me, ultimately. That this is imperiled, or probably gone forever, is a very painful idea to me. Maybe that ties into the idea of a lost innocence or a lost boyhood. The lost adventure of childhood. "Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, talks about his new book, Summerland, and the freedom he fears is vanishing from children's lives."
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