This story of a recent college graduate exploring the person who he is and is to become in the summer before commencing work, is territory already covered. That being said, it has not been covered by someone with the pedigree of Michael Chabon, nor with the wit and wordplay that the author brings to all of his novels. Further complicating the plot is the fact that the character's father is a relatively important mob figure and that there is a fling, dare I say it, a predilection, towards homosexuality.
The beginning and middle of this book is composed of nothing but brilliance. Perfect examples of the flawed choices and generalizations abound, relationships bloom and suffer and the plot thickens slowly. By the end, however, the plot has kicked into an intense overdrive (a good thing) but the characterization falls by the wayside. Why our protagonist makes the choices that he does is barely explored and they seem to come more from whimsy and plot convenience than from the internal struggle that they would almost necessarily imply.
So the end of the book sort of killed it for me. It is narrated by the protagonist from some point in the future far enough removed to add a layer of what he calls nostalgia over the entire affair, but it lacks the clarity of insight that such a perspective could (and should) imply. Too bad. It is an otherwise brilliant novel.