Patrick Faller's Reviews > The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
M 50x66
's review
Jan 20, 09

really liked it

Chabon's first novel is very much a young man's pursuit of that mysterious state of grace that is adulthood postponed. A very quick, sexy, engaging read, this novel deals with Art Beckstein's struggle to reach an accord with "[his:] father, the gangster", his confused sexuality, the death of his mother, and whether and to what extent he should be made to suffer for his father's sins. There's a great deal of energy, and youthful whimsy--much of which is driven by the mystery of our pasts and whether we can truly escape the circumstances of our birthrights--but at times the novel falls victim to the various conflicting genres that shape its character struggles. One feels as though Chabon were consciously trying to break rules by bringing conventional crime-story plot twists to help wrest the story from its beohemian tryst element; whenever Art's sexual confusion borders on the extreme, in comes Cleveland, or Art's father, and Art is once again made to question the ethical dimensions of crime and his role in his father's life. As rough as the ride gets, however, it's one that's very much worth taking, especially for those who've loved Chabon's later work; there's nothing quite like watching a writer come into his own, and this novel, for all its faults, is Chabon's messy coming-of-age.
flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lori (new)

Lori I remember not really liking this novel so well although the description of some of the neighborhoods I know like Highland Park were good, the Pittsburgh crime scene here felt a little well unreal. Also, I don't think I really liked the characters that much and so, for me, the character's coming of age wasn't enjoyable. But it seems like I should read any book set in Pittsburgh. I don't know if I would like Chabon's later work since this book kind of made me not want to read it. Maybe his work is just not my style. Do you have any recommendations for other books by him?


Patrick Faller Lori wrote: "I remember not really liking this novel so well although the description of some of the neighborhoods I know like Highland Park were good, the Pittsburgh crime scene here felt a little well unreal...."

Chabon's an author interested in writing genre-bending literary fiction. I've liked his short stories because they allow you to get into and out of his worlds very quickly. I've never been able to barrel through his work as I can with some authors, and this is perhaps because his prose style bears a haughtiness that infects his characters and the story he's telling, so I always feel slightly pushed away or put down by what he's telling. This may be the point--it's such a consistent element of Chabon's work, this pushing-away, that I'd have to think he was this kind of person or that he was somehow, subconsciously, maybe, trying to reinforce the disjunction between his fictional worlds and characters and his reader.

Pick up "Werewolves in Their Youth." He certainly has a firm grasp of craft, and it's best displayed here. The big novel, Kavalier and Clay, is worth a look if you've got a month to spend. This was a book I had particular trouble staying with, but felt rewarded for my efforts when I'd finished it.




message 3: by Lori (new)

Lori Thanks for the recs. I'll add them to my to-read list. I'm up to give them both a try if I can learn something from them, though it may be a while before I get to it.


back to top