Deidra's Reviews > The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
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Oct 18, 07

Recommended for: noir fans who aren't expecting much
Read in October, 2007

Had a pretty lengthy review, which was deleted when I made the mistake of changing the shelf. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Long story short: I still don't get why Michael Chabon is supposed to be one of the great writers of the 21st century. "Wonder Boys" was an enjoyable read. Nothing life-changing, but smart, fast, and chock full of quirky characters.

"Kavalier & Clay"....not so good. I am a fan of the comics industry, and I have to say the beginning describing it's birth had me riveted. And then the characters' hardships begin. And then they continue. And keep going. The depressing acts were so unrelenting that it started to border on the melodramatic, one long dirge on the suffering and pain humanity inflicts on itself.

Now "The Yiddish Policemen's Union". I have to admit that I only made it through about 3/4 of this book. See, Chabon seems to have done the same thing all over again: taken an interesting, original concept and then populated it with contrived, formulaic plot lines and tired characters. Example: A mystery set in an alternate reality where the Jewish population has been relocated to Alaska after the atrocities of WWII. Sounds good, right? Well, it would be if he didn't just drag out the tired old noir cliches: the alcoholic, loner detective on a destructive downward spiral who won't give up the case; his family-man, responsible partner, there to pull him from the messes he makes; his estranged ex-wife who he still loves. Give me a break. I couldn't get enough of an investment in these characters to actually care where the plot was going.

There are some interesting scenes and it's obvious Chabon is well-educated in the areas of Jewish ritual and history. But even with a couple of unforseen twists, it wasn't enough to keep me reading.

Also, as a sidenote: I have to say the book jacket for this edition is one of the most obnoxious I've ever seen. Could his name get any bigger? The entire spine of the book is taken up with "PULITZER PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR" which completely overshadows the actual TITLE of the book. I know Chabon had nothing to do with this design, but it's pretty bad.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Laurel (last edited Dec 08, 2007 05:37PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Laurel I totally agree with the book jacket business you brought up. Who puts the name of ANOTHER BOOK on the spine of a new book? I like the colors, but geez, enough already.

Dante HEAR HEAR! I also don't understand all the praise this book gets. I also gave up after about 3/4 having given up hope of finding any sympathy for the characters, any plausibility to their actions, any thread to the plot.

Cindy I was really disappointed in this book as well. I didn't mind the cover so much, but after all the hype, I sure expected more.

message 4: by Larry (new)

Larry I feel the same way about Chabon, I read Kavalier and Clay and was unimpressed. I thought this one sounded interesting and was willing to give it a go since I dig detective stories and I love Alaska. I don't know if I am gonna be able to finish it though, man it is slow and the prose is nothing special. I'll give it a bit more but I don't know if I can finish it.

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