Jeff's Reviews > Gentlemen of the Road

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
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's review
Mar 26, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: people who like elephants- but only kind of
Read in August, 2008

Part I of the review:
“I want to do nothing. Nothing. Okay, maybe I’ll read a book. Hmm… Gentleman of the Road, by Michael Chabon. Well, I really liked Kavalier and Clay. And I liked Yiddish Policeman’s Union. And this is a short book- maybe I’ll just read this book, and work myself out of this 5 month funk I’ve been in…
… For numberless years a myna had astounded travelers to the caravansary with its ability to spew indecencies in ten languages, and before the fight broke out everyone assumed the old blue-tongued devil on its perch by the fireplace was the one who maligned the giant African with such foulness and verve.

What the hell is a ‘myna’? What’s a ‘caravansary’? Dammit- I’m reading a Michael Chabon book! Which means words I’ve never heard and… yep, there they are- Zelikman- funny Jewish names. Sigh… I want to do nothing… nothing… I really don’t even want to read this book. I don’t want to do anything. Nothing. NOTHING EVER AGAIN!”

Part II of the review:
So, yes, I have finally read this book. Okay- so I guess this was the story that Michael Chabon published over a period of time through the New York Times. I remember hearing about this and thinking, "I'd like to read that..." but it turns out a full subscription to the New York Times would cost me $350, or $245 for just weekends, and let's face it- I'm not going to pay a few hundred dollars for "All the news that's fit to print" when I can get all that same news (all the news that's fit to upload into a web browser?) for free (or for whatever internet costs- it should be free). Anyway- but this isn't about how little I care about the "paper of record" and their fancy crossword puzzles- and how I’d probably be smarter if I read that particular paper- but New York doesn’t need the ego boost of having me read their paper- this is about how I muddled through the 193 pages of Gentleman of the Road, and king of enjoyed myself while doing it.
It does read like a serialized story- which isn’t a bad thing, but every chapter did end with that cliffhanger type of feeling… or did it?

Part III of the book review.
Overall- I didn’t feel the same connections with these characters as I did with Chabon’s other characters in his other novels- but then again, he only had 200 pages to work with (whereas his other books have 400 plus pages to cram full of words that I have to look up and names that I pronounce phonetically in my head) but I still enjoyed myself reading the book. It was apparently steeped in historic Jewish culture- maybe- I wouldn’t know. There was a big deal about elephants- though- it wasn’t really a big deal. Overall I think it’s a pretty good quick read. It brought me out of my five-month-long funk. Or did it?

Part IV
I’ll say this: The ending was so-so. There was all this build-up till the end, and then it just sort of ended. It made me wonder if it being published in a newspaper had anything to do with the ending. And then there’s this weird afterward by Michael Chabon. In the afterward Chabon discusses why he wrote the book (he’s experimenting with different formats?) and then he talks about going on adventures, and there’s this big to do about ‘Jews with swords’ and then he says something that almost sounds like a backhanded compliment about people not reading books anymore… or people reading books instead of carrying swords as a way of escapism, or something like that. I could have misunderstood what he was saying, but still Dude- I just bought your freaking $22 dollar book (which is still a way better deal than the $350 newspaper subscription) stop lecturing me about being afraid of going on adventure with swords and what not. Let’s just all of us read a comic book and relax.
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

5 month funks are the pits. Have you read "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?" I think you would like it.

Jeff I haven't. But I hear great things about it... something called a Pulitzer? Supposed to be good.
I've been waiting for it to come into the bookstore- alas it hasn't yet. I know- or figure I could check it out from the library- but I like owning a book I'm going to read- no pressure to read it quickly- or maybe I'm just lazy...? or just a slow reader. Television has ruined me- but darn it all if How I Met Your Mother doesn't make me laugh every single week.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Give it time, it'll come your way. Neil Patrick Harris will keep you entertained until then.

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