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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

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The enthralling debut from bestselling novelist Michael Chabon is a penetrating narrative of complex friendships, father-son conflicts, and the awakening of a young man’s sexual identity.

Chabon masterfully renders the funny, tender, and captivating first-person narrative of Art Bechstein, whose confusion and heartache echo the tones of literary forebears like The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield and The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh incontrovertibly established Chabon as a powerful force in contemporary fiction, even before his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay set the literary world spinning. An unforgettable story of coming of age in America, it is also an essential milestone in the movement of American fiction, from a novelist who has become one of the most important and enduring voices of this generation.

316 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1988

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About the author

Michael Chabon

168 books8,193 followers
Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was made into a film starring Michael Douglas. One of America’s most distinctive voices, Chabon has been called “a magical prose stylist” by the New York Times Book Review, and is known for his lively writing, nostalgia for bygone modes of storytelling, and deep empathy for the human predicament.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,018 reviews
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
December 6, 2020
Like most stellar! first novels, this one has that autobiographic vibe that perhaps the writer's future novels will only barely, bravely hint at. This one is a coming out story, basically. The protagonist is gay, bi, experimenting. There are overly-masculine (gay) symbols throughout which obviously take no great psychoanalyst to pry open: mysterious men in motorbikes, gangsters, gaming, the faraway suburbs seeming faraway dreams that'll never be. The world so fully inhabited by BRET EASTON ELLIS is likewise the playing field in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," though in this case the end of college (and not high school, or during college, like in Ellis) is marked by booze, drugs, sex... like, ya know, uber-bohemian proclivities.

Yes, this one is actually better than "Less Than Zero", another effort at displaying the antics of 20 to 25 year olds still shaping out lives, but not as masterful as "The Rules of Attraction", where indeed no character WAS attractive, but the overall youthful ambivalence was.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
September 5, 2020
 photo Michael Chabon_zpsvcseps7t.jpg
Michael Chabon looking remarkably like how I envisioned his protagonist looking in The Mysteries of Pittsburg.

“When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another's skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness - and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon. The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.”

There are moments in time that are demarcation lines in our lives. They might involve deaths, loves, the culmination of clarity, or in the case of Art Bechstein, a summer of chaos. He has issues. In fact, his issues are so large that other issues are building hotels, spas, and skyscrapers on his original issues. He has the mysterious death of his mother lingering like a ghost over everything he does. When feeling pressured at all, he bursts into tears in front of his gangster father. He has just graduated from college and is starting the summer, the last summer of discovery, before he has to decide what he will do with the rest of his life. I would reassure him that there will be many more moments like this as middle age descends upon him like a hammer and a series of midlife crises buffer him about like chaff swirling in the back of a grain truck. We’ve all been there...shit...I graduated...now what?

The prospects are rarely clear cut for most of us, except for those few who have been focused on a career path since the age of seven. I must admit, as difficult as these decisions are, Art has a few more things bothering him as well that I haven’t mentioned yet.

I don’t like the fact that he calls himself Art. It diminishes him even further. Of course, one of his best friends is also Arthur, Arthur Lecomte, and he is way too suave, well dressed, cultured, and charming to be called anything but Arthur. Art isn’t really sure why Arthur likes him, but he suspects that it may be because he wants to seduce him. When the path forward is so uncertain, what a great time to question one’s sexual orientation as well? Art has wrestled with it before, in high school when he was experiencing a long drought of female disinterest. Once girls started paying attention to him again, he put all those homosexual thoughts on a backburner, but now that he is hanging around with Arthur, he is starting to wonder about his sexuality once more. Is it because he wants to be more like Arthur?

He has a girlfriend named Phlox Lombardi. ”Everything about her that was like a B-girl or a gun moll, a courtesan in a bad novel, or an actrice in a French art movie about alienation and ennui; her overdone endearments and makeup; all that was in questionable taste and might have embarrassed me or made me snicker, I had come to accept entirely, to look for and even to encourage. She delighted me as did bouffant hairdos and Elvis Presley art. When she came out of her bedroom dressed in a nylon kimono and huge slippers of turquoise fur, I was almost dizzy with appreciation, and the gaudy plastic Twister mat at my feet seemed to be the very matrix, the printed plan, of everything I liked about her.”

He is right in thinking that Arthur and Phlox are way cooler than he is and should be questioning why they like to hang out with him. As he navigates his feelings for both of them, I start to feel like Art is responding more to the desires of others rather than to his own feelings. He loves both of them. He isn’t wrong about that, but he dangles both of them as if by some miracle they could all be together. A triangle of love and lust that will not require Art to choose. The problem, of course, is Arthur and Phlox are insisting that he must pick. Frankly, I think both Arthur and Phlox, once they experience Art’s dithering, should have both dropped him like a hot potato. Art is worried about this. Both are well aware that Art needs them, and maybe that is why they allow him to play with their emotions as he tries to figure out his own muddled desires.

The problem is, once he chooses one, he loses the other.

Art and Arthur have a mutual friend named Cleveland. He is a force of nature, who takes too many drugs, drinks too much, and rides his motorcycle like a blazing comet while under the influence. He wants to ”eat the entire world.” He is flailing at the world like an inebriated and crazed Don Quixote, and of course, the windmills will win. He has visions of being a gangster and insists that Art introduce him to his father. The faster Cleveland tries to ascend, the closer he gets to the sun, and we know what happened to Icarus.

This is certainly a coming of age story. When it first came out, many compared it to Catcher in the Rye, which is something publishers routinely do for any coming of age story that has some literary merit. The comparison has been used so much that readers practically roll their eyes when they see yet another reference to J. D. Salinger’s masterpiece. Although Art Bechstein is no Holden Caulfield, there is a legitimate search for the truth going on in this novel. This book does capture the peculiarities of the ‘80s and the emergence of the modern age when more people felt comfortable talking about their sexual orientation with more complete honesty. If you had told me back then we would still be grappling with homosexual issues in 2020, I would have thought you were crazy.

In this first novel, Michael Chabon is already showing the great promise of the amazing writer he was going to become. I thought it was interesting, reading an interview with him, that he mentioned that he felt like a failure. Here is a celebrated novelist, who has won numerous awards for his writing, who still feels the lash of any criticism. I’m glad that he continues to muscle through those misdoubts that have been sown in his mind by critics who have obviously failed to understand just how good a writer he is.

This is an excellent first novel that any writer would be proud to call their own.

FYI a movie was made based on the book in 2008 which was directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starred Jon Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller, Nick Nolte. I haven’t seen the movie, but hope to see it sometime this month.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Mark.
78 reviews42 followers
February 11, 2008
So, I loved this book, and kind of wanted it to be my life, the way certain people I could name but won't feel about The Sun Also Rises. I was about fifty pages in, tops, before I found myself casting the movie in my head. (I deliberately avoided looking at the cast list until after I finished reading the book; thank god I did, I would have liked the book, I estimate, about 46% less had I know while reading it that Mena Suvari plays Phlox. Appalling.) Or, to be honest, imagining myself as the lead character in the movie of the book. Or, to be even more honest, imagining myself as the lead character in the real-life version of the book. I haven't done this since, I don't think, and funnily enough, Fortress of Solitude. (Not coicidentally, another book that takes place appealingly in a culturally signified past; I think it helps, if you're going to try to place yourself in a story, it helps to be able to place the story in a time and place that already seems and looks like part of history, as opposed to the uncertainly defined present.) Yeah, I know there are a hell of a lot of other things literature can do, but this was the first of the things that literature can do that literature did to me, and I'm glad to be reminded of how it feels.

And you know what? Chabon knows exactly what he's doing. It's so obviously semi-autobiographical, embellished and romanticized (crime! great food! copius sex! adventures!), but essentially a not-quite-as-young-as-he-once-was man's marvel at his youth, and sadness at its passing. (I'm fairly certain I could have figured this out even if I had read an essay to that effect once.) Chabon makes it clear, I think, exactly how aware he is of all this, with passages about "the will to bigness," and the narrator's closing admission about his tendency to exaggerate.

So The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a book about how art can make life bigger and better than it is.

I should also mention that one of the reasons it pulls this off is because there's a memorable image, quotable bit of dialogue, fresh observation, or hilariously perfect and original turn of phrase on pretty much every page of the thing.
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books474 followers
July 15, 2018
My eyes rolled so much when reading this, I thought they might pop out of their sockets. This is one of our great American writers? A Pulitzer Prize winner? What a sad state of affairs that is. I suppose Kavalier & Clay is the one I'm supposed to read...but since I received this from the publisher for free, and it was by Chabon, I thought at least it would be good if not great.

It was terrible. Just awful. There was almost nothing about it that I liked. It was nearly unbearable, and I would have put it aside without finishing it if I hadn't owed the publisher "an honest review" based on the free book. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh really got on my nerves. First person stories can be tricky. You have to be willing to live with the character for an entire book. The main character here was a whiny, douchebaggy, lying, pseudo-witty, insecure, recent college grad trying to "find himself." I just wanted to constantly slap him, not to hear his semi-clever little jokes and his oh-so-tedious struggle with "deciding" if he was gay or not gay. Get the fuck over it, buddy. I couldn't care about this guys struggle to decide whether or not to cheat on his girlfriend (whom he thought he loved) with this charming Machiavellian hipster dude. I have no doubt there are many in society today who struggle with their gender ambiguity. But reading about this sort of whiny struggle in the 80s didn't provide any better understanding about the struggle today. It's seemed so dated...this book has lost its relevancy since it was published in 1988.

Perhaps that is mainly due to the awkwardness and contrived nature of all the relationship in this particular book. I'm sure in the hands of other more capable authors, a story of facing ones gender ambiguity could be meaningful in ANY time setting. But in this particular story, the storytelling no longer seemed relevant. I would think that almost everyone who reads Pulitzer Prize winning mainstream literary authors is 99.9% likely to be socially liberal even if they are economically libertarian. So who is gaining empathy for someone struggling with being gay in the 80s? We've moved on past this, and the battle lines are clearly set between the right-wing racist/homophobes authoritarians who support the Republican party and the liberal humanists who range from supporting Democrats to anarchists, socialists, etc. Right wing homophobes are not reading Chabon and aren't going to be moved either by this annoying hipster college grad weiner who can't make up his mind about what he is. If you are trying to get readers to accept and like someone struggling with gender ambiguity then create someone we can care about.

The other characters were equally smarmy, phony and awkwardly written. And their relationships were just odd and a few steps off from realistic. I liked none of them nor believed any of them despite the profusion of tiny character details intended to build realism. I fluctuate in my appreciation for realistic characters and experimentalism in literature. It's books like these where they teeter between contrived details to create believability and "quality" writing (yes, he's not incompetent as a writer) where I become most disgusted by realism, feeling the author is just attempting to trick the reader into believing his story.

This book's premise seems dated (it literally is, being set in the 80s) and besides the point. In fact, it's so besides the point that the supposedly realistic characters in this book never ONCE mentioned anything about politics. It's set in the 80s when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were Presidents for fuck's sake. And not a single mention of it by any character? These were all kids just graduated or recently graduating college. And the government never once crossed their mind? That reinforced the bizarre myopia for me. And writing about Pittsburgh...if the setting was important enough to put in the title, then what was the point of that? What did we learn about Pittsburgh? One would think we would learn about the experience of living in Pittsburgh, perhaps the collapse of the steel industry and blue-collar career opportunities and unions would be some aspect of the book. Nope. For some reason Chabon elected to choose semi-intellectual college grads who seems more like New Yorkers to represent the city. And gangsters. Yes, old school mafia gangsters. These choices baffled me and felt completely irrelevant to understand...the city or anyone, for that matter. Post-college grads trying to "find themselves" could happen in any city, but somehow this was supposed to represent Pittsburgh? And somehow the recognition one's gayness or bisexuality gets mashed up with dealing with his father being in the mafia? It was a schizophrenic muddle that did not come together.

I get the feeling some of the relationship stories in here were fictionalized autobiography. Big. Deal. They made for a terrible and terribly annoying story. If this character was somehow based himself, then all I can say he, he makes a terrible character that I wanted to run over with a car.

Mysteries of Pittsburgh? More like the Mysteries of Why Chabon Wrote this Self Indulgent Waste of Time. It's just a bad book.
Profile Image for Maria Lago.
450 reviews103 followers
May 18, 2021
Me hubiera encantado que este libro acabase con todos los protagonistas yendo en coche de picnic. Chocan contra un autobús. Estalla el motor. Mueren todos los pasajeros del coche. Mientras, desde el autobús, la gente contempla impotente y horrorizada.
Piénsatelo, Chabon.
Profile Image for shellyindallas .
107 reviews32 followers
April 11, 2009
I, like tons of other goodreaders, wish we didn't have to give a book an entire star so really I rate this at a three and a half more than a four.
In any event, I know that I liked this book, I'm just not sure how much I liked it or why I liked it. I mean, if a book holds your attention to the point where you can finish it quickly and are interested in picking it up everyday does that by itself make it a great book? Or a really good book? Because this book was that for me. Then again, some really shitty Lifetime movies have been that for me, too. Depends on my mood. Some of the stuff in this book bugged me, though. Like, for example, how one of the main characters is a girl named "Phlox." Really? Seriously? Phlox from Pittsburgh? Then the main character, Arthur Bechstein, is annoyingly indecisive, cries often and for no apparent reason, and is one of those people who is into something because all his friends are. I think spineless is the word I'm looking for here. Despite all that, I still liked him. He's a nice guy. The story itself is nothing groundbreaking. Young man who cant relate to his father comes of age type shit. Only Chabon has mixed it up a bit by creating a main character who can't decide which one of his lovers, the guy or the girl, is true love and which one is lust. Also there's a back story involving the main character's father-- a Jewish Mob Boss-- and his thug-life homey who uses him (Arthur) for his underworld connections.

What it all comes down to for me I guess is that whether or not a story is derivative or whether or not its been told before (which, you know, most have) doesn't matter if it's well executed. And that's where I'm confused. On the one hand I really enjoyed reading the book and found myself invested in the characters and absorbed by the story, but on the other hand there were plenty of times where I was really turned off by it and thought "This is total bullshit. Why is this here?"

Ugh. I hate how I hated Arthur's indecisiveness and now I can't even decide how I feel about this book. What Bullshi!

PS- This movie: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2429...
seems very little like the book I just read. And I can't believe I didn't realize for nearly the entire time I was reading this book that a) there was a movie made about it and b) It's the movie Sienna Miller was filming when she referred to Pittsburgh "Shitsburgh"? So that's kinda cool.

Edit: OK, I'm knocking it down to just three stars. I just wasn't comfortable with the four that were up there.
Profile Image for Rachel.
584 reviews69 followers
August 16, 2022
Michael Chabon can write one hell of a novel. This one is his first but has so much poise and wisdom. I gobbled it up.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,729 followers
April 1, 2020
I wanted to like this more than I did. Perhaps it is because I started reading this as the Covid-19 ramped up, but I had a really hard time with the narrative. It just didn't propel me very hard. Maybe I'll comeback someday and re-evaluate it, but I've loved several Chabon novels A LOT more. But few books have made me feel worse about not liking them. I feel a bit guilty and ungenerous, but I still just can't say I loved it.
Profile Image for Mattia Ravasi.
Author 5 books3,550 followers
January 29, 2019
Video review

It's a book about well-off youths in the prime of their lives having aimless fun and abundant random sex. What's there not to hate?
Recommended if summer is your favorite season, or you're interested in witnessing the budding of Chabon's flowery prose.
Profile Image for Nikki Boisture.
613 reviews26 followers
August 3, 2017
I've read this book three times. I'm trying to decide exactly what it is that I love so much about it. Michael Chabon's writing style makes me long for such skill. I get an ache in my stomach reading his works and loving them so much and wishing his words could come from me. The characters in this book aren't wonderful people, but they are wonderfully real. Art's lack of self-confidence especially speaks to me. When Art falls in love with Arthur I fell in love with Arthur right along with him. I love that this book takes place over one summer, just like Gatsby, which is its obvious inspiration. I love how 1980's the book felt. I was 3-13 years old in the 80's, so I have nothing but faint memories and old John Hughes movies to remind me of that time period. Mysteries of Pittsburgh almost feels like a period piece reading it now, and I mean that in the BEST possible way. I love the Pittsburgh references and Chabon's obvious attachment to that city, as my husband is from Pittsburgh and we love to visit once a year. It's hard to explain...I just get an emotional charge from even thinking about this book!

I know this review wasn't that well-written. But my love of this book makes my thoughts all jumbled and it's the only way I could get it down....
Profile Image for Stef Smulders.
Author 19 books119 followers
June 2, 2017
Now what a masterful writer is this! Very precise and compelling with beautiful convincing descriptions. When I came across the following lines I had to stop reading, flabbergasted by what must be the best paragraph I read in years:

"Before she committed suicide, when he was seventeen, Cleveland Arning's mother, a laughing woman, taught her son to joke and to ridicule. His father, tall, thin, cut his beard in a goatee and wore great red sideburns that ran up his otherwise bald temples. His name was also Cleveland, and although he did indeed have his own grim notions of what made a joke, he laughed only rarely, generally in the privacy of his own study. In the kitchen, Cleveland and his mother would listen to the inexplicable sound of his father's laughter coming through the oaken door, and whatever story Cleveland had been telling to make her laugh would die on his lips. They would chew in silence, clatter the dishes into the sink, and go to their rooms. Cleveland senior was a psychiatrist."

A complete novel in a few lines only.

The story itself is moving, complicated as a result of the ambiguity of Art's feelings about his life and the world of his father as well as about his sexual orientation. A rich debut!

Afterthought: what makes Chabon's writing so special is that his characters become so real that you would not be surprised to encounter them in real life. In fact, you want to encounter them, because they have become your friends.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,996 followers
August 13, 2014
A contemporary novel about a young man who graduates from college and spends a summer wandering about Pittsburgh. Art, our protagonist, struggles to decide between his male and female lovers, and he also attempts to navigate a risky relationship with his money laundering father, who happens to get involved with one of Art's new friends, Cleveland, an intelligent and disillusioned biker. Throughout all of these relationships Art gets closer to discovering what makes him himself, the most puzzling mystery of them all.

I enjoyed The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. It read like a mixture of Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You and Adam and The Catcher in the Rye. Michael Chabon writes Art in a smooth, sophisticated way that captures his insight and develops his voice without resorting to cryptic or flowery language. The flow of the story felt like a summer exploration, with Art meeting new people and engaging in ephemeral relationships that end up affecting him forever. Here's a quote from when Art first meets Arthur, one of his romantic interests:

I laughed, but Arthur stood straight, looked deeply, beautifully sympathetic for perhaps a tenth of a second, and nodded, with that fine, empty courtesy he seemed to show everyone. He had an effortless genius for manners; remarkable, perhaps, just because it was unique among people his age. It seemed to me that Arthur, with his old, strange courtliness, would triumph over any scene he chose to make; that in a world made miserable by frankness, his handsome condescension, his elitism, and his perfect lack of candy were fatal gifts, and I wanted to serve in his corps and to be socially graceful.

My three-star rating comes from Art's general lack of direction in the novel. The book showcases his journey to find himself, but I found Art's purposelessness a bit confounding, especially when it came to his relationships with Phlox (his female lover), Arthur, and Cleveland. His lack of conviction made me question the depth of his connections, and as a result I felt less of an emotional pull when each of his relationships came to a crisis point.

Overall, recommended to those searching for a well-written, somewhat directionless read about a young man's self-discovery after college. Not my favorite book, but a unique one that I will remember for at least a little while.
Profile Image for Gadi.
167 reviews12 followers
July 6, 2012
I'll be generous.

This book did not capture me. The writing felt amateur in ways that stunned me. I remember feeling lost in Kavalier and Clay, floating on wave after wave of blindingly gorgeous sentences, paragraphs, so complex and bold that you couldn't help but feel an awesome seasickness. Here, though, the writing is just plain old insecure. Chabon plays it like a coward, and Art sounds like a boring crybaby who we end up not liking that much because, well, he can't write fo shit.

Not that the characters were really that good, either. Art basically said that Phlox was fake, with her lack of humor and her pretend mannerisms and her constant attempts to change the way she presented herself to the world. What he neglected to tell us was that everyone else in the book was fake in their own special ways, too. And if not fake, then at least too much stock character and not enough larger-than-life-ness. I despised Cleveland and thought he was unlikable the way Hitler is unlikable. Art's father felt more like a set piece/deus ex machina than a person. And Arthur was just not really someone we got to deeply know, I feel, unless you count his homosexuality as profound facet #1 of his personality.

That's not to say that the writing was abysmal. It wasn't. It was bad for Michael Chabon, good when compared to other human beings. I was interested in Art's life, which is good. The last couple of pages were cool. Parallel to Gatsby tickled my heart a bit. I'm torn between 2 and 3, because I actually read this book with interest, even though I don't think it's great. "It was okay," I'd say, which is 2-star... and this is Michael Chabon, so comeonnnnnn. Yknow he could've done something better than this.
Profile Image for Shea.
15 reviews3 followers
August 31, 2007
I bought this book many years ago while actually in Pittsburgh. I was visiting a girlfriend who was living there, and shortly after my arrival I was unceremoniously dumped.

Browsing the street of the unfamiliar town I was supposed to spend the next 3 days in, I stumbled upon this book. Based on title alone it seemed an appropriate subject, given my recent circumstance. I imagined myself sitting and reading for days at a bench on the Monongahela, forlornly pondering life's intricacies. Instead I went to New York for a weekend bender. It somehow seemed more cathartic.

Anyway, I finally read this book, and sorta wish I'd read it back then. It truly captures that agonizing/exhilarating/mysterious time of post-college youth when you're trying to decipher love and life and your place in the future.

(The bender was fun, though.)
29 reviews3 followers
December 1, 2008
What a stupid book. The writing is uncreative and dull, the plot is close to non-existent, and sweet jesus do I ever hate these characters. All that, and an unsettling number (well, three) of sudden and sloppy accounts of buttsex. I will give credit to the early scene of the party at the Iranian woman's home and the final few paragraphs, but the ~270 pages in between are simply not worth the time.
Profile Image for Ubik 2.0.
938 reviews234 followers
April 3, 2019
I dolori (e i piaceri) del giovane Arthur

Avrei dovuto consultare con maggiore attenzione la bibliografia di Michael Chabon, invece di buttarmi alla cieca sull’onda delle ottime esperienze di lettura con Le fantastiche avventure di Kavalier & Clay, Il sindacato dei poliziotti yiddish, Sognando la luna, tre romanzi uno più divertente e travolgente dell’altro, tanto da indurmi a procurarmi altre opere dell’autore.

Infatti questo I misteri di Pittsburgh è l’opera prima di un Chabon appena 24enne, che precede di 15-30 anni i suoi romanzi più noti e riusciti e, se pure il frontespizio del libro riporta lodi sperticate e meraviglie per uno “straordinario esordio”, in realtà l’immaturità dell’impianto narrativo si sente, soprattutto rispetto agli eccellenti romanzi della maturità.

Si può comunque cogliere la nascita di alcuni degli elementi che costituiranno lo stile di Chabon, come la commistione fra fantasia ed evidenti riferimenti autobiografici, la predisposizione ad un racconto con molteplici ramificazioni e personaggi (tendenza destinata ad accentuarsi nelle opere successive, così come l’esorbitante numero di pagine, qui ancora contenuto…), la notevole dose di ironia e di humour, la mescolanza di generi al limite del sovraccarico.

In questo primo romanzo prevalgono l’impostazione e le tematiche proprie di un vero romanzo di formazione, sensazione accentuata dall’uso dell’io narrante che ne amplifica l’immedesimazione, così come l’affabulazione interiore che accompagna la crescita di Art, personalità ondivaga dalla sessualità ancora incerta e contraddittoria, dalla famiglia inquietante alle amicizie particolarmente originali e un po’ folli.

Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
722 reviews140 followers
June 24, 2017
As this novel opens, two contradictory worlds quickly coalesce around Arthur Bechstein, freshly minted college graduate. The first is uninspired and conventional. The second is filled with open-ended, over-sized, impractical possibilities.

Art Bechstein has lived a sheltered life ever since his mother died when he was 13. His college major in economics attests to the kind of level-headed direction a father would approve of. (A paper on Sigmund Freud's sexual nose fetish tells us where his real interest lies). His father has always kept a tight leash on Art through his pocketbook and old-fashioned guilt tripping. Art freely admits that after this precious brief summer of freedom he will follow a career that his father has lined up for him. Even the break-up with his girlfriend Claire seems influenced by Joe Bechstein, who disapproved of her, maintaining she was preternaturally psychotic. The problem is that Joe Bechstein is a powerful figure in the Jewish mafia. He has always kept Art at a distance from his criminal activities, and Art, as one cynical friend has observed, has never looked into how the sausages at the family concession stand are made.

A chance encounter connects Art with Arthur Lecomte, a promiscuous homosexual. Lecomte introduces Bechstein to a world where people affect fluid identities and go by dadaist nicknames like MauMau (Phlox), Momo (Mohammad), and Riri (that might actually have been her real name). The most influential of these new acquaintances will be Cleveland, a Harley-riding alcoholic, a “manifestation of the will-to-bigness” pursuing life (hedonism) and love (Jane Bellwether) with compulsive misadventure. That explosive spontaneity is catnip to Bechstein, who has already confronted his own anxiety about adulthood: “My worst nightmare was a boring nightmare, the dream of visiting an empty place where nothing happened, with awful slowness.” (p.42) A second scene when he stands on a precipice overlooking the distant figures in a working class neighborhood, reinforces the point: “I made a sudden, frightened vow never to become that small, and to devote myself to getting bigger and bigger and bigger.” (p.52)

This sense of destiny, however, is not Bechstein's driving anxiety. Instead we see him wrestling with a sexual indecision between Phlox, a student of French prone to dramatic pronouncements sourced from literary quotes, and Lecomte, chameleon-like, worldly and louche.

Pittsburgh permeates this novel with descriptions of the Lost Neighborhood (Junction Hollow), Fox Chapel (an actual affluent leafy township), the Duquesne Hotel, and the Cloud Factory (Bellefield Boiler Plant). No doubt a resident of Pittsburgh would be much more transported by these references.

How does Bechstein resolve his attraction for Phlox and Lecomte? Where will his friendship with Cleveland lead? Will he be successful in asserting his independence from Joe Bechstein? Will Bechstein find a cure for his loneliness? Unfortunately, I just didn't care. This novel is regarded as a coming of age story, and my lack of empathy was fatal to my ability to like this book. I admit, this is purely a subjective assessment. The book might strike a deeper chord with male readers.

The book is narrated in the first person voice of Art Bechstein. There is one notable exception. Chapter 22 (“The Beast that Ate Cleveland”) is narrated in a third person voice. I found that voice much more engaging. The first-person voice seemed too conducive to self-indulgence on the part of the author.

Chabon is a talented writer, and his observations about inebriation are some of the most memorable lines in the book. For example, here is a depiction of one of the characters: “The alcohol had deserted him during his run through the woods, but now it returned, with all the rancor of an I-told-you-so....” (p.278) Other passages reveal Chabon's mischievous sense of humor. Art is maneuvered into inviting Phlox to dinner with his father. They accidentally encounter a local kingpin, “Uncle Lenny” and his wife, “Aunt Elaine.” Lenny and Elaine insinuate themselves into their table. Art is painfully aware that a few tables away sit a pair of FBI operatives who are obviously keeping tabs on the pair.

This was Chabon's first published novel. It was interesting to me only as a historical artifact, to be compared with Chabon's later works.
Profile Image for Anne.
330 reviews101 followers
March 23, 2016
Oh my. I could read this again and again. I've been saying this tons of times, but I'm certain that the reading experience will always change, will always morph into something else. Every sentence breathes. It's so beautifully written, and many times I find myself pausing just to savor the beauty of it. Here are some quotes that I like:
“I saw that I'd been mistaken when I thought of myself as a Wall, because a wall stands between, and holds apart, two places, two worlds, whereas, if anything, I was nothing but a portal, ever widening, along a single obscure corridor that ran all the way from my mother and father to Cleveland.”

“But the first lie in the series is the one you make with the greatest trepidation and the heaviest heart.”

“I thought, I fancied, that in a moment, I would be standing on nothing at all, and for the first time in my life, I needed the wings none of us has.”

“I was conscious, then, of a different ache, deeper and more sharp than the feeling of bereavement that a hangover will sometimes uncover in the heart.”

At first glance, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is the story of how a young man spends his post-graduate summer. He's currently trying to find himself and all that sort of thing. Until, one day, he stumbles upon a person who eventually leads him to meeting more and more people, like a chain; people who will inevitably make a massive impact on his life, forcing him to make decisions he never would have bothered himself with before, forcing him to accept everything that comes with such choices, even if it meant heartache and a whole lot of sadness.

Sounds like your typical coming-of-age story, doesn't it?

Well, far from it. A few pages in and I knew this was going to be a completely different ride. This is where Chabon’s magic comes in--the glorious writing. Some people might have issues with it; some might say it’s a bit too flowery for their taste, veering dangerously close to redundancy, but I’d beg to differ. It’s pure poetry. It’s like you’re looking at a nondescript, terribly boring piece of rock, but once Chabon describes it, it transforms into something else, and you’d be surprised--and a bit vexed--at yourself for not having perceived it that way before.

I’m only deducting a star because of the characters. Don’t get me wrong--they’re really well-developed, and I could see the effort behind their construction. They’re also very distinct from each other; one could immediately see their prominent traits and describe them in detail. They could be anyone you know, anyone you meet on the streets. However, I have some issues with Art Bechstein (the protagonist). He’s so realistic to the point that I don’t get him at all. I thought I knew him because, well, he is the one telling me all these details, giving me all his thoughts, but once he acts, I suddenly realize that he’s withholding something about himself, and it hits me that I haven’t the slightest notion on who he is at all. And I don’t fully agree with his choices. Sometimes he acts all strong and mighty, sometimes he’s weeping like a kid. Oh, and I also feel that he’s really such a bastard sometimes. And, lastly, what I abhor the most is that despite all these, I somehow can’t help liking him.

Sigh. Job well done, Chabon.
Profile Image for Rebecca Armendariz.
11 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2007
This book is my new personal favorite. Mostly because of this quote,
"Every woman is a volume of stories, a catalogue of movements, a spectacular array of images."

The other quotes I like are:

“There had been a time in high school, see, when I wrestled with the possibility that I might be gay, a torturous six-month culmination of years of unpopularity and girllessness. At night I lay in bed and coolly informed myself that I was gay and that I had better get used to it.”

“It was as though she had studied American notions of beauty from some great distance and had come all the way only to find she had overdone the details: a debutante from another planet.”

“… listened for accents of friendship: the banality, relaxation, and lack of style that characterize a conversation between two friends.”

“‘Let’s drink something cool and refeshing,’ Phlox said, bobbing her head, widening and then narrowing her eyes like some lustful and wily biblical queen. ‘Beer,’ said Arthur and I.”

“A gin and tonic under its tiny canopy of lime elevates character and makes for enlightened conversation.”

“That evening I rode downtown on an unaccountably empty bus, sitting in the last row. At the front I saw a thin cloud of smoke rising around the driver’s head. ‘Hey, bus driver,’ I said. ‘Can I smoke?’ ‘May I,’ said the bus driver. ‘I love you,’ I said.”

“An unfamiliar restaurant can be a very disorienting thing.”
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
652 reviews388 followers
May 18, 2019
I've been trying to read a Chabon novel or two per year and I decided the 2019 instalment of my ongoing Chabon-project would be his first, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. While I often hem-and-haw about a star-rating, I feel more confident giving this one a middle-of-the-road review on the Chabon-o-scale. Though the book has a lot of the charm, style, and character work that I've come to expect from Chabon, it suffers from some lack of direction that you'd expect with any first novel.

Even though the first bit of the novel takes a while to get up to a proper pace, I read most of the rest of the book over a breezy few hours. Tonally, the book shifts between irreverent university-student antics, seriously inebriated thoughts about serious subject matter, and a compelling love triangle. As the book moves along, you can see the groundwork being laid for the more elaborate novels in Chabon's future.

Overall, a neat experience on my Chabon journey. Though it's my least favourite novel of his, it has a lot of promise that we of the 2019-present get to know is amply fulfilled. For anyone who happens to die for Chabon's writing, I think this one is worth your time. Otherwise, I think you might be better served by one of his more well-known pieces.
Profile Image for Frederick.
Author 7 books43 followers
February 7, 2008
This was Michael Chabon's first novel. He was in his early twenties when it was published. It was widely praised. While many of the critics focused on the sexual ambiguities of the main character, what Chabon clearly showed here was his gift, to this day undiminished, for giving architectural landscape a personality.
In every Chabon novel or story I've read, manmade structures give meaning to the characters' actions. If I exaggerate, then allow me to clarify what I'm saying. Are the characters in THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH not often scrambling in giant, broken down arenas, negotiating rusty staircases and climbing up brick edifices?
And isn't Chabon's trump-card the fact that the reader WANTS to read about the utilitarian monuments which house his characters?
WONDER BOYS would be the book I'd give to someone from another country who might want an idea of what it LOOKS like to live here.
There is a Michael Chabon masterpiece which more people should seek. It's buried on his official website (if that website is still up. I haven't checked it out in three years.) [Note added Feb. 6th, 2008: An article which I think is the same one I'm thinking of appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 26th, 1993 and is called PRAGUE: LOST ERA'S LAST SURVIVOR. I can't tell if it's the same one because I can't get the TIMES'S website to bring it up. By the way, here's a web-page listing that article, as well as many other articles and books by Michael Chabon: http://www.sugarbombs.com/kavalier/wo... an essay about a trip he made to Prague. He describes the famous, eccentric architecture. But this is not mere travel writing. This is about a city which drove out its Jewish population as the Nazis swept across Europe. The architecture, ornate and whimsical, draws tourists, while the monstrosities within its hallucinatory frame are forgotten. Chabon visits the Jewish cemetary and sees blond-haired, blue-eyed visitors, obviously Gentiles, making a show of grief. The beautiful, eccentric, mad architecture lives generations after multitudes of innocents who had called it home were taken from its shelter and slaughtered.
Profile Image for Speedtribes.
121 reviews7 followers
February 14, 2008
This is what I call the "It was summer and we were young" school of youthful indiscretion and confused attempts at living the Full Life.

The story is filled to the max with sexual confusion, societal yearning and emotional tug of war between what the protagonist calls his beautiful god-like people -- all put together in a sleepy, yellow-warm and lyrical package.

I had a little difficulty buying into some of the situations and characters and I'm not entirely certain the ending had been built up enough before it impacted. I also found myself struggling with a general sense of distaste for the people and the dissolute lifestyle the main character seemed to indirectly yearn for. (Or rather, I just think he has poor taste.)

But. There is a very big but. It was summer. And I know what it feels like to want quietly and graspingly for unknown things. To remember a life that is better than reality, because nostalgia is a powerful mechanism. It was that gentle nostalgia pervading the whole story that really sold me to the story. I didn't need to like the people, or the events to understand the whys behind all the emotion and hows and things.

The writing is smooth, clear and very pretty. Chabon really is quite good. I'm definitely going to read the rest of his work.
Profile Image for Joy D.
2,068 reviews240 followers
April 2, 2023
“When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another's skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness - and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon. The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything."

This book is Michael Chabon’s debut, written in his twenties, and one can definitely see why he became an author. The writing is fabulous. It portrays a summer after graduation. Protagonist Art Bechstein recounts his memories of those days. It is a coming-of-age story set in 1980s Pittsburgh. Art and his new group of friends set out to “find themselves” and have some fun. They experiment with smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex, and the usual reckless behaviors of youth. He develops intimate relationships with a man and a woman. Art has been shielded from his father’s shady history, and now that he is older, he finds out more than he wanted to know. This family history starts out as a small part of the story but gradually increases in significance. This book is a story of self-discovery. A sense of energy practically leaps off the page. Chabon is one of my favorite authors and I am glad to finally read his debut.

Profile Image for Oscar.
1,974 reviews489 followers
May 28, 2019
‘Los misterios de Pittsburgh’ fue la primera novela de Michael Chabon, y en ella se encuentra el germen de lo que es su magnífica carrera literaria. Sin ser una novela redonda, sí contiene la suficiente calidad como para convertirla en una lectura imprescindible para comprender lo que serían las siguientes obras de Chabon, sobre todo ‘Chicos prodigiosos’ y la obra maestra que es ‘Las asombrosas aventuras de Kavalier y Clay’, ganadora del Pulitzer, sin olvidar sus excelentes relatos, muchos de ellos publicados en el prestigioso New Yorker.

La historia, ambientada en los 80, tiene como protagonista y narrador a Art Bechstein, que cuenta el verano que pasó al término de sus estudios universitarios, meses tras los cuáles tendrá que dar el gran paso hacia la vida de adulto y asumir responsabilidades como tal. Art, que trabaja a tiempo parcial en una librería, conocerá un día a Arthur, lo que supondrá un cambio fundamental en su vida, así como una forma de evasión frente a lo que está por venir. Pero el personaje de Art, siendo el protagonista total de la novela, no me ha interesado tanto como los secundarios: el propio Arthur, gay y al que no le importa reconocerlo; la encantadora Phlox, tan especial como su nombre, una chica que trabaja en la biblioteca y que se siente atraída por Art; Cleveland, amigo de Arthur, que vive para su motocicleta, su novia Jane y sus sueños, y la propia Jane, preocupada siempre por Cleveland y sus líos, y de la que he echado de menos algo más de protagonismo. De la mano de este grupo de amigos obtenemos una visión inteligente y emocionante, quizás algo ingenua, de lo que significa el paso a la madurez, y del que Art aprenderá a disfrutar del placer de una conversación, de la amistad sincera y del amor.

Una parte fundamental de la novela es la ambigüedad sexual del protagonista, que duda constantemente entre el amor por Arthur o Phlox. Así mismo, también es importante en la vida de Art la difícil relación que mantiene con su padre, el clásico gángster, con el que cena eventualmente y de cuyo cariño y reconocimiento tiene absoluta dependencia.

En resumen, ‘Los misterios de Pittsburgh’ es una novela muy bien escrita, que no hace más que apuntar en lo que se convertiría Chabon con los años: uno de los mejores escritores norteamericanos actuales.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,452 reviews473 followers
July 28, 2019
2000 Mar 01

Add this to Brideshead Revisited for the list of Books in Which I fell In Love with Both a Male and a Female Character. And also, with a city. And the idea of being in college, which wasn't much at all like my experience.


Now to see what I think of it 30 years on, with my own kid in college.

I'm always surprised on a reread to see how much I have forgotten: big, important plot points are lost, but I remember details, like The Cloud Factory. Here I remembered the falling in love, but not the resolution, nor the Fitzgerald-like narrator, the glamour of the Beautiful Young
Things. I am impressed now with the sophistication, with the adultness of most of them, the amusing banter, cooking real meals, sending their laundry to the cleaners. Not that any of them have a job paying more than minimum wage, or real furniture, and they're all still very much caught up in dealing with their parental issues.
And, oh, the nostalgic golden glow of a time before college graduates were burdened with inescapable student loans, a time when herpes was the worst imaginable STD.

I can't say, now, whether or not it's a good book. But it is pretty and sad and Brideshead Revisited remains the closest comparison.
Profile Image for Tung.
630 reviews40 followers
April 6, 2008
My fourth Chabon work in a row after having read Final Solution, Model World, and Werewolves in their Youth in the past few weeks. Thankfully, this is the last of his early works for me to read, since I don’t know how much more unpolished Chabon I can take. Mysteries is Chabon’s first published work, his master’s thesis at Cal-Irvine. The book takes place in Pittsburgh at an unnamed college, and revolves around a college student named Art Bechstein whose father is a Jewish gangster. Art meets several friends – Arthur (a gay student in love with Art), Phlox (an eccentric girl also in love with Art), and Cleveland (a wild young guy with no clear future who is involved with the mob) – and the book winds its way around their relationships to Art and to each other, while at the same time exploring Art expanding his mind and boundaries and trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. All of this takes place in the shadow of Art’s relationship to his gangster father. For a first novel, it’s well-written and you can see glimpses of Chabon’s strengths: perfectly-developed characters, natural dialogue, complex relationships. But that’s what made this frustrating for me; having read Chabon’s best works first (Kavalier & Klay & Final Solution), seeing how unpolished Mysteries is alters how much I enjoyed this book. My biggest gripes about Mysteries are in its pacing and in its protagonist. Pacing-wise, Mysteries spends way too much time (in my estimation, about 4/5 of the book) shaping the main characters, developing their interactions, and setting up the book’s climax so that when it wraps up in the final few chapters, it feels rushed. This book doesn’t have the scope that Kavalier & Klay had: hundreds of pages fleshing out decades of lives. Rather, Mysteries takes place in one summer in 300 pages; I feel like Chabon could have shortened much of the set-up and expanded the ending to even out the timeline of events. Protagonist-wise, Art is the least likable character in any of the Chabon works I’ve read. He spends far too much time crying and acting passively, which might be somewhat natural for a young kid finding himself, but I simply didn’t care for him in the least. And Art is such a critical protagonist to the story – more directly connected to everything and everyone in this book than other protagonists in other books – that if you don’t like him, the story ends up falling short, which it just does for me. Not quite recommended, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Renee.
27 reviews5 followers
July 13, 2009
I went to add this book and couldn't remember the title, in spite of having just finished it this month. That's a good approximation of my experience with The Mysteries of Pittsburgh--pretty forgettable. It's one of those moody books set in a roughly indiscriminate time period (it's clear from the text that it's supposed to be some point between 1980 and 1990, but the way it's written it could easily be 1920...or 50...or 72) that's primarily concerned with characterization and not really interested in action or plot. And that's fine--who doesn't love a good character study?--but not really interesting in this case. The characters are slightly quirky but lack substance, and eventually you figure out that the main concern of the story is the protagonist's confused sexuality (which culminates with a haphazard homosexual relationship that doesn't really change anything about him, or his life, or anyone else's life...including the reader's). The end is an absolute anticlimax, but considering that the book is mostly flat this is neither surprising nor inappropriate. A book like this almost NEEDS an anticlimax, in fact--to suddenly drop some action in at the end would be totally incongruous and probably give the sedated reader a heart attack as a result.

I had a lame writing instructor once who only ever said one useful thing: to make a story, something has to be at stake, some choice has to be made, and there's has to be a resulting change from it. In Pittsburgh, the choices are ambiguous (like the protag's sexuality, I guess...) and once made fail to change anything--at least, anything that counts. But if you're the kind of person who likes pointless, flowy novels that don't really go anywhere (or just like Chabon's style) then this might be all you. Unfortunately, it was not my bag.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,034 reviews1,186 followers
April 11, 2010
Might I just say that over the last few days I’ve found it intensely irritating when anything has come between this book and me. Suckered in from the opening sentences:

At the beginning of the summer I had lunch with my father, the gangster, who was in town for the weekend to transact some of his vague business. We’d just come to the end of a period of silence and ill will – a year I’d spent in love with and in the same apartment as an odd, fragile girl whom he had loathed, on sight, with a frankness and a fury that were not at all like him. But Claire had moved out the month before. Neither my father nor I knew what to do with our new freedom.

How could I put it down after that? I'd even fall asleep with it in my hand.

He wrote this at age twenty-three, which quite astonishes me. It has a clever-but-never-smart-arsed-never-jarring technical excellence that leaves me rereading again and again as I go along. After two others of his, I assumed he worked bloody hard at this, but 23 years old? Maybe he was just born that way. Or both. I’d bet my last dollar he works hard, really hard, that every word is polished and scrutinised before being left on the page. I hope this doesn’t make it sound cold. This is an author who loves every one of his characters and therefore we cannot but love them too.

A booky extract for goodreaders:

I’d wanted to work in a true, old-fashioned bookshop, crammed with the mingled smells of literature and Pittsburgh blowing in through the open door. Instead I’d got myself hired by Boardwalk Books.

Boardwalk, a chain, sold books at low prices, in huge, flourescent, supermarket style, a style perfaced by glumness and by an uncomprehending distaste for its low-profit merchandise. The store, with its long white aisles and megalithic piles of discount thrillers and exercise guides, was organised as though the management had hoped to sell luncheon meat or lawn care products, but had somehow been tricked by an unscrupulous wholesaler – I imagined the disappointed ‘what the hell are we going to do with all these damned books?’ of the owners who had started in postcards and seaside souvenirs on the Jersey shore. As far as they were concerned, a good book was still a plump little paperback that knew how to sit in a beach-bag and keep its dirty mouth shut.

‘Literature’ was squeezed into a miniature and otherwise useless alcove between War and Home Improvement, and of all the employees, several of whom were fat and wanted to be paramedics, I was the only one who found irregularity in the fact that Boardwalk sold the Monarch notes to such works as Tristram Shandy, that it did not actually stock. I was to spend the daytime summer stunned by air-conditioning, almost without a thought in my head, waiting for the engagement of evening. Summer would happen after dinner. The job had no claim upon me.

What else can I say? Oh yes. It has a character called Manny in it, thus possibly confirming Paul’s suspicions about how many of them there are. No amount of pleading, bribery or threats will make me say more on this matter, you’ll just have to buy the book.
Profile Image for Jill.
353 reviews342 followers
March 15, 2015
Take a dull boy in a dull city during a dull, liminal summer. Not an adult but soon-to-be, not really anything yet but certain he will be. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh begins at this doorway and records Art Bechstein’s quest for a summer of whimsy and profundity that will change him for the better.

June finds Art making fantastic new friends who all seem to know how to live better than he does. Inspired, Art sits atop a hill in Pittsburgh and thinks this:
I smoked and looked down at the bottom of Pittsburgh for a little while, watching the kids playing tiny baseball, the distant figures of dogs snatching at a little passing car, a miniature housewife on her back porch shaking out a snippet of red rug, and I made a sudden, frightened vow never to become that small, and to devote myself to getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
June leads to July and then August, sultry months that will find Art in various predicaments that are recounted nostalgically even as they are happening for the first time, and throughout Art will interrogate himself: How does one become “big”? But to answer how, it is necessary to answer what. What does it mean to be “big”?

Each character approaches bigness differently, and Art finds something to envy with every one. Big, mean Cleveland steps onto the page straight from a Hollywood action sequence. He is undoubtedly the biggest character in the novel. But you don’t even have to squint to notice how small he is inside. He resorts to showing off to hide his emptiness, and yet everyone around him idolizes him, fears him, historicizes him even though he’s a 20-something who has barely started living.

The other two principals in Art’s motley crew are Phlox, the girlfriend described as a movie star beauty but who is terribly mundane beneath it all, and Arthur, the cultivated gay man who feigns coming from a palace but actually grew up in a 2-bedroom ranch. Every character starts out big but pops at some point, floating downwards towards the blue-collar streets of Pittsburgh. Maybe down there they aren’t big, but there they can stop and think for a while. And maybe there, like Art, they’ll learn that bigness doesn’t come with living; it comes with remembering. Philosophizing, exaggerating, daydreaming—whatever you want to call it. People are big when they give you something to think about.
Profile Image for Siv30.
2,385 reviews126 followers
July 28, 2019
אודה ולא אבוש: אני לא שותפה להתלהבות הגורפת מהכתיבה של שייבון. קראתי את ה-אפוס "הרפתקאות המדהימות של קוואליר וקליי" (שהאורך של השם שלה מייצג את האורך של היצירה מעל 700 עמ!) ולא נפלתי מהמיטה. קראתי גם את "הפתרון הסופי" שהיה לא יותר מחביב.

ועתה משהבהרתי את עמדתי ונכתבו הדברים הללו, תוכלו להבין את ההפתעה שלי מ"מסתרי פיטסברג" , שאותו בכלל לקחתי כספר לווין (ספר לווין - ספר שאמור לעמוד בקריטריונים הבאים: הוא חייב להיות דק עד 300 עמ' מקסימום, בפורמט קטן, שלא יחייב אותי לחשוב הרבה כי הוא נקרא במקביל לספר עומק אחר).

בהתחלה ההרגשה שלי היתה מעורפלת, כמו הרגשה רגע לפני שנרדמים, התנדנדתי על גליו של הספר. לא הצלחתי להחליט אם הוא מספיק מעניין לי להמשיך איתו.

הגיבור, ארט בכסטיין , צעיר יהודי שדי מסוכסך עם עצמו, עם הזהות המינית שלו ונמצא במערך כוחות לא שקול מול אביו (איש מאפיה) פוגש בקיץ של סיום לימודי התואר הראשון שלו את ארתור לקונט, הומו מוצהר עם רשת חברתית שלא היתה מביישת את הנסיכה דיאנה.

ארתור מפגיש את בכסטיין עם גלריית דמויות ססגונית המעבירה יחד את הקיץ החם והלח בפיטסברג. החבורה מתהוללת וחוגגת והדמויות מתחלפות כמו בסרט נע. ואז מפגיש ארתור את בכסטיין עם פלוקס המוזרה, הם מתחילים לנהל רומן ולרגע (בערך באמצע הספר) הייתי צריכה להחליט ביני ובין עצמי אם הספר מתפתח למקום שבכלל מעניין אותי.

אבל אז, בדיוק באמצע (2/3 מהספר שחלפו) המחשבות על הבורגנות המשמימה שמייצר שייבון, קרה המקרה! הגיבור של שייבון תופס אומץ וחוצה את הקווים. ואני אומרת לכם, אין כמו זהות מינית מעורערת, פסאודו מרדנות ותחרות הזויה על ליבו של הגיבור המוכה עוועים של ילד בן 14 בכדי לרתק אותי.

אז מאוד הזדהתי עם בכסטיין שסובל מיתר אנדרנלין לנוכח האקשן שתקף לו את החיים. מהיהודי משעמם ואפרורי, הוא נקלע למוקד מחלוקת מינית, למוקד תשומת הלב של המאפיה, לקרב אימתנים עם אביו ולמרדף של המשטרה כמו בסרטים האמריקאים.

ומאוד רציתי שמישהו גם אותי ירכיב על אופנוע BMW במהירות שהרוח תנפנף לי את הפוני (שאגב אין לי) אחורה - נניח.

ואז הבנתי את זה. כולם רוצים להיות משהו שהם לא.

"אני מנקה בתים. היא אמרה. כמו הבית הזה.

היא זרקה מבט אחרון של כמיהה ולגלוג על הפליז המבריק ועל עציצי פיקוס הגומי בסלון החזאית, ואז ארתור נישק את לחיה והוציא אותה מדלת הבית" (244)

גם אני רציתי תקופה די ארוכה להיות משהו שאני לא. לאחוז בזנב השביט שחולף בשמי חיי רחוק מלהשיג.

אולי החום והלחות של הקיץ הזה פשוט הוציאו לי את המנדבושקס מהמח והראיה שלי הפכה בהירה יותר. עבור ארט בכסטיין עשתה את זה אלה של שוטר שנחתה לו על הראש.

מה אומר ומה אגיד, קסאנדו שלי (ושל בכסטיין) הולכת ונעלמת בערפילים.


"מסתרי פיטסברג", מייקל שייבון

הוצאת עם עובד, 290 עמ', 2010
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