Cassy's Reviews > The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
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1. Chess
2. Police investigations
3. Judaism (Yiddish, red cows, those little hats)
4. Alaska

I don’t know much about any of these topics. And honestly, only the last one piques my interest. Which meant from page one, it was going to be an uphill battle for Chabon.

And he lost the battle. I mean he was slaughtered on that hill.

Now that I have finished the book, I have negative interest in items 1 to 3. I am still curious about Alaska. Yet once it was used in the set-up, the cold tundra was tossed aside and rarely impacted the story.

To his credit, Chabon put up a good fight. His descriptions were razor sharp. (And I picture his eyes shut as he slashes away with those blades.) Not to mention the character quirks he threw in with such abandon, like grenades meant to blast away my resistance.

Enough with my bad metaphors. I can understand how he won a Pulitzer Prize for his other book. Chabon is a good writer. He has a way with words, understands people, and set up a truly brooding mood.

It may just be that the subject matter was predestined to fail with me. (If you are wondering why I read this book in the first place, there weren’t many options at the library that day.) But isn’t it an author’s job to make the topic interesting? I thought I’d be able to grasp onto something, anything.

Plus I had a hard time keeping all the names and events straight. You can blame this on a combination of listening to the audiobook while driving and, once again, the fact that I just didn’t care.
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Reading Progress

January 7, 2012 – Shelved
January 12, 2012 – Started Reading
January 23, 2012 –
page 70
16.91% "Such a struggle to stay interested in this one."
February 2, 2012 –
page 325
78.5% "I hope I don't jinx it, but this book may have become interesting."
February 8, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Nandakishore (new)

Nandakishore Varma If I remember correctly, this book also won an award: the Hugo or the Nebula.


Cassy JonSnow, most of my GR friends like this book. I think I am on my own with my two stars. My gut told me not to read it initially. Maybe you should listen to yours?


Cassy Nandakishore, you're right. This book won both of them, which makes no sense to me. I thought those awards were reserved for more traditional science fiction and fantasy novels. I'd consider this book a dystopian.


message 4: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda C If you're interested in Alaska, look up the writer David Vann. He grew up in Ketchican and has set several of his books in AK, even though he now lives in California. I lived in Anchorage last year for a few months and it is a fascinating place. I'm not sure I could live there permanently, but I loved my adventure and miss Anchorage a lot. I went to a reading by David Vann at the Anchorage library which was very good. I bought a couple of his books, but haven't actually read them yet. On my TBR list for 2013.


Cassy Thank you for the recommendation, Linda. I will definitely check out Vann!


message 6: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Stamber Whilst considering reading this book, I came upon your review, which to me is an ideal review. You don't regurgitate the plot (an annoying trait that many seem to have), you just say how you found the book without labouring the point. Well done!


Cassy Thank you, Joe! I agree about plot summaries. I avoid them in my reviews...unless I think the marketing is scarce/misleading and potential readers need to know the reality before they make a decision.


Heather Breslin I am listening to this on CD and I am totally laughing at your review. I was so confused I had to look up Sitka on Wikipedia because I thought I missed something. I know a fair bit of Yiddish and Jewish customs but I am still struggling with basic comprehension. I too have no interest in chess. This is a tough book to finish but I am stubborn. Plus it's that or listen to the radio. Thanks for the laugh.


message 9: by Cassy (last edited Dec 07, 2013 10:43AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cassy Thank you, Heather!

Yeah, it is a confusing book. But it really shouldn't have been so confusing. Why was I so darn confused? Look, I am now confused by my prior confusion. Anyways, I still don't know what Sitka means. A place? A custom? I am impressed that you looked it up!


message 10: by Margaret (new)

Margaret I am struggling to keep going with this book so was very pleased to read your review. Everyone else seems to love it!

If you are interested in Alaska I recommend you read Cold Storage Alaska by John Straley. It's a cracker!


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