Art Bechstein steps out of the library into the summer of his graduation year. Not yet ready for respectability, he falls in with the exotic, ...Show synopsisArt Bechstein steps out of the library into the summer of his graduation year. Not yet ready for respectability, he falls in with the exotic, charming Arthur Lecomte, and ricochets between a homosexual relationship and an intense affair with a strange and beautiful girl called Phlox. Before long, the world of his new friends and the underworld of his father must collide, with consequences that Art cannot control.Hide synopsis
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I'm a latecomer to Chabon, and have been reading his work in roughly newest-to-oldest order. So I was surprised to find that this work is almost as good as his recent work. There's nothing particularly complex in either its structure, tone, or point of view, but it is remarkably assured for a writer in his earlier twenties. And I hadn't known that Chabon had been (essentially) bisexual during this period of his life, so that too was a surprise. He deals with that aspect of the novel in a mature and convincing manner, much to the surprise perhaps of both gay and straight readers who may have doubted that real bisexuals exist.
I finally finished the long, frustrating, boring read that is The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon.
Normally I finish books in a month at the most, a weekend at the least, depending on my workload. This took me about 2 months, as I kept not wanting to read it, choosing instead to read my fiancee's old comic books before bed. The story follows a recent college graduate during his first summer out of undergrad. He makes some new friends, as he seems not to have had any worth keeping from school. Shenanigans supposedly ensue.
Chabon is skilled at imagery, and although the plot and characterization were flat and dull, I did feel the heat and humidity of the surroundings, and the book did play in my head like a movie. That duly noted, my specific problem with this book is that none of the characters are particularly likable, save one, and only then within the last two chapters. I don't normally mandate likable protagonists, but in this case I could have used someone to give a hoot about. For the first 7/8ths of the book, the plot essentially meandered lazily, following a main character who really doesn't know himself. And then the secondary characters, as they emerge, never develop beyond two dimensions.
Anyway, the last two chapters suddenly zing full of life, energy, and character. I deeply wish that the narrative thread had been present in this way throughout the entire book.
Those interested in Michael Chabon would be better to stick with the brilliant Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
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