Why is it great? Chabon has tapped into that greatest of sensory effects: the ability of smells to take you back to a place, a moment, a memory. The last one, in particular, works its magic on me. The mildewy smell of an old canvas tent may not be scientifically pleasant, but it’s emotionally wonderful. One whiff and I’m camping with my family by a lake, the hunting-themed flannel of the sleeping bag soft against my face, the moonlight coming pixilated through the mesh windows.

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