What Gaiman alludes to and Chabon tackles directly is the genre which we now know as "literary": the fictional worlds inhabited by people who think a lot and say a lot and feel a lot, but don't actually do very much over the course of the narrative - they might be caught up in the swell of an emotional riptide, perhaps, until Chabon's "moment-of-truth" revelation brings the story, such as it is, to a close.Call me a troglodyte, but I do enjoy when things actually, you know, happen...
The ongoing, endless war between "literary" fiction and "genre" fiction has well-defined lines in the sand. Genre's foot soldiers think that literary fiction is a collection of meaningless but prettily drawn pictures of the human condition. The literary guard consider genre fiction to be crass, commercial, whizz-bang potboilers. Or so it goes.
What do you mean, "a plot"?
I know we've all been there, seen that, but this article on the lack-of-plot associated with "good writing" hits the nail right on the head: