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Volume 3047a
MICHAEL CHABON
An Illustrated Bibliography with Mini-Reviews
Continued from the ERBzine INTERVIEW






THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH

Book Description
By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier ? Clay. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more. 

From Publishers Weekly
First-novelist Chabon, with "distinctive vision" and "an elegiac, graceful style," spins a story about alienated youth that, while serving up some familiar details of sex, alcohol and drugs, "fully engages the reader in the lives of an appealing cast of characters," said PW . 

Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 
 
 

THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH (film)

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a film adaptation of Michael Chabon's best-selling novel of the same name, which was published in 1988. The screenplay was written by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who also directed. Shooting in Pittsburgh ended in October 2006, with the film set for release in 2008. It made its world premiere in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival.

More at: IMDB

 

WONDER BOYS
From Publishers Weekly
Chabon's long-awaited follow-up to The Mysteries of Pittsburgh concerns the antics of a self-destructive middle-aged novelist who is suffering from a sustained case of writer's block. 
From Library Journal
Chabon himself is something of a wonder boy; his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, presided on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 12 weeks. Here, his eponymous heroes are Grady, an aging author attempting to write his chef-d'oeuvre, and his randy editor, Tripp.
From Scientific American
The young star of American letters ... a writer not only of rare skill and wit but of self-evident and immensely appealing generosity. 
From The New Yorker
Wonder Boys caught me up and carried me along like some kind of flying carpet ... Whether making us laugh or making us feel the breathtaking impermanence of things, Michael Chabon keeps us wide awake and reading. -
From Booklist
This is a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud novel, a sort of Fear and Loathing in Academia if you will, but infused with tenderness and a bracing skepticism about our worship of literature. Chabon is known for his glisteningly precise and graceful prose, but he is also blessed with a wickedly imaginative and energetic sense of humor. His second novel takes place during the course of one extraordinarily hectic weekend during which his crazy hero, Professor Grady Tripp, manages to ruin two marriages, cause the death of a boa constrictor and a dog, save a student's life, attend a disastrous seder and a chaotic writers' conference, and lose the only copy of his manuscript. Now don't groan when I tell you that Wonder Boys is also the title of the novel Tripp has wasted seven years of his disorderly life on, because this is not your typical, bloodless novel-within-a-novel. It is, instead, a simultaneously hilarious and insightful tale about the Faustian bargains writers make, the fissures the act of writing rends in the wall between fact and fantasy, and, for good measure, the basic absurdity of human endeavors. It's also an uproarious portrait of the artist as self-indulgent fool. Tripp's "wonder boys" are, like Chabon, young writers who achieve instant success. The trick, then, is to maintain it. Whereas his endearingly addled and irresistible hero fails, Chabon, for all his musing on the dark side of the writer's life, is succeeding brilliantly. 
Review Blurbs
"The young star of American letters . . . a writer not only of rare skill and wit but of self-evident and immensely appealing generosity."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

"A beguiling and wickedly smart novel."—Richard Eder, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Filled with memorable lines and wonderful images."—Robert Ward, The New York Times Book Review 

"The young star of American letters . . . a writer not only of rare skill and wit but of self-evident and immensely appealing generosity."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

"A beguiling and wickedly smart novel."—Richard Eder, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Filled with memorable lines and wonderful images."—Robert Ward, The New York Times Book Review 
 

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER ? CLAY
Booklist Review
Virtuoso Chabon takes intense delight in the practice of his art, and never has his joy been more palpable than in this funny and profound tale of exile, love, and magic. In his last novel, The Wonder Boys (1995), Chabon explored the shadow side of literary aspirations. 

Here he revels in the crass yet inventive and comforting world of comic-book superheroes, those masked men with mysterious powers who were born in the wake of the Great Depression and who carried their fans through the horrors of war with the guarantee that good always triumphs over evil. In a luxuriant narrative that is jubilant and purposeful, graceful and complex, hilarious and enrapturing, Chabon chronicles the fantastic adventures of two Jewish cousins, one American, one Czech. It's 1939 and Brooklynite Sammy Klayman dreams of making it big in the nascent world of comic books. Joseph Kavalier has never seen a comic book, but he is an accomplished artist versed in the "autoliberation" techniques of his hero, Harry Houdini. 

He effects a great (and surreal) escape from the Nazis, arrives in New York, and joins forces with Sammy. They rapidly create the Escapist, the first of many superheroes emblematic of their temperaments and predicaments, and attain phenomenal success. But Joe, tormented by guilt and grief for his lost family, abruptly joins the navy, abandoning Sammy, their work, and his lover, the marvelous artist and free spirit Rosa, who, unbeknownst to him, is carrying his child. 

As Chabon -- equally adept at atmosphere, action, dialogue, and cultural commentary--whips up wildly imaginative escapades punctuated by schtick that rivals the best of Jewish comedians, he plumbs the depths of the human heart and celebrates the healing properties of escapism and the "genuine magic of art" with exuberance and wisdom. Donna Seaman

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
ESCAPIST
From Booklist
Fans of Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) who long to read the actual comic-book adventures of the Escapist, the superhero created by the novel's young protagonists, have recently had the chance, thanks to the comic book of which this is the first collection. It purports to repackage the "original" Escapist stories, dating from the 1940s. Scripting the Escapist's origin story himself, Chabon has enlisted contributions from leading comics artists and writers, including Howard Chaykin, Kyle Baker, and Chris Ware. The results seem rather inauthentic; attempting to copy the crude art and simplistic scripts of vintage comics would have been more audacious and perhaps more entertaining. There's no escaping the fact that these stories are just above-average mainstream superhero exploits that probably appeal more to comics aficionados than readers of the novel. Not nearly as impressive as the groundbreaking Kavalier-Clay collaborations Chabon's fiction suggested. 
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved 
SUMMERLAND
From Publishers Weekly
In his debut novel for young readers, Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier ? Clay) hits a high-flying home run, creating a vivid fantasy where baseball is king. Following the death of his mother, 11-year-old Ethan Feld and his father, a designer of lighter-than-air-dirigibles move to Clam Island, Wash. The island is known for its almost constant rain, save for an area on its westernmost tip called Summerland by the locals which "knew a June, July and August that were perfectly dry and sunshiny." In Summerland, Ethan struggles to play baseball for the Ruth's Fluff and Fold Roosters, with dismal results. But here, too, a mystical baseball scout recruits Ethan and escorts him through a gateway to a series of interconnected worlds that are home to magical creatures called ferishers and an evil, shape-changing overlord called Coyote. Ethan and two of his fellow teammates soon accept a mission to save these other worlds (plus the one they live in) from ultimate destruction at Coyote's hand. When his father's well-being is also threatened, Ethan's quest becomes all the more urgent. To succeed, Ethan and his friends must find a way to beat giants, ferishers and others in a series of games where striking out truly has apocalyptic implications. Chabon unspools an elaborate yarn in a style that frequently crackles with color and surprise. He occasionally addresses readers directly, imbuing his tale with the aura of something that has been passed down through the ages. Impressively, the author takes a contemporary smalltown setting and weaves in baseball history, folklore and environmental themes, to both challenge and entertain readers. Images of the icy Winterlands and beasts like the werefox and Taffy the motherly Sasquatch recall C.S. Lewis's Narnia and some of Philip Pullman's creations in his Dark Materials. Devotees of the genre and of America's pastime will find much to cheer here. 
THE FINAL SOLUTION
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–Roused out of retirement, a former detective, now a beekeeper, is identified only as "the old man." The story opens in the summer of 1944 when he sees a boy with a parrot on his shoulder walking along the train tracks. The boy is Linus Steinman, a refugee from Nazi Germany who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Panicker and their grown son in their boardinghouse. Though Linus doesn't speak, his parrot, Bruno, recites strings of numbers in German, as well as bits of poetry and snatches of songs. When a boarder is murdered and Bruno is kidnapped, the local police try to engage the beekeeper in helping them solve the crimes. He agrees to help, but only to find the bird. Thus begins his last case, his "final solution." The double meaning of the title gives subtle layers to the story and reveals the man's deep compassion for Linus. Chabon's writing can be both startlingly clear or laced with intricacies and detours. One chapter is told from the point of view of the parrot. Readers will enjoy the realistic characters and lush descriptions, and, best of all, trying to figure out the mysteries. Even the identity of "the old man" is a mystery until they figure out the clues for themselves–the tweed suit, the pipe, the beekeeping, and the sharp mind that can only belong to one famous sleuth.
GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pulitzer Prize winner–Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union) recreates 10th-century Khazaria, the fabled kingdom of wild red-haired Jews on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, in this sprightly historical adventure. Zelikman and Amram, respectively a gawky Frank and a gigantic Abyssinian, make their living by means of confidence tricks, doctoring, bodyguarding and the occasional bit of skullduggery along the Silk Road. The unlikely duo find themselves caught up in larger events when they befriend Filaq, the headstrong and unlikable heir to the recently deposed war king of the Khazars. Their attempts to restore Filaq to the throne make for a terrifically entertaining modern pulp adventure replete with marauding armies, drunken Vikings, beautiful prostitutes, rampaging elephants and mildly telegraphed plot points that aren't as they seem. Chabon has a wonderful time writing intentionally purple prose and playing with conventions that were most popular in the days of Rudyard Kipling and Talbot Mundy. Gary Gianni's elegant illustrations, a cross between Vierge's art for Don Quixote and Brundage's Weird Tales covers, perfectly complement the historical adventure. A significant change from Chabon's weightier novels, this dazzling trifle is simply terrific fun. (Oct.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
More Reviews at Amazon
MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS
From Publishers Weekly
An entertaining omnibus of opinionated essays previously published mostly in Details magazine spotlights novelist Chabon's (The Yiddish Policemen's Union) model of being an attentive, honest father and a fairly observant Jew. Living in Berkeley, Calif., raising four children with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, who has also just published a collection of parenting stories (Bad Mother), Chabon, at 45, revisits his own years growing up in the 1970s with a mixture of rue and relief. A child of the suburbs of Maryland and elsewhere, where children could still play in what he calls in one essay the Wilderness of Childhood, he enjoyed a freedom now lost to kids, endured the divorce of his parents, smoked a lot of pot, suffered a short early marriage and finally found his life's partner, who takes risks where he won't. The essays are tidily arranged around themes of manly affection (his first father-in-law, his younger brother); styles of manhood, such as faking at being a handyman; and patterns of early enchantment, such as his delight in comic books, sci-fi and stargazing. Candid, warm and humorous, Chabon's essays display his habitual attention to craft. (Oct.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 
From Bookmarks Magazine
Already less than awed by "alternative" parenting memoirs by moms and dads, many critics seemed primed to dislike Manhood for Amateurs. But Chabon comes out on top, impressing reviewers with his usual balancing act: on the one hand, a multitude of finely examined details, anecdotes, and references; on the other, a solid core of a story. That he could extract such a core greatly impressed some reviewers, although a couple noted that a few of the essays felt as if they had been written for men's magazines—for which they indeed already had. Others found his balancing act not so exceptional in an era of confessional fiction; nevertheless, they were impressed that Chabon could pull it off without falling into the usual pitfalls of the form. 

 
 
THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION
Publishers Weekly Review
They are the "frozen Chosen," two million people living, dying and kvetching in Sitka, Alaska, the temporary homeland established for displaced World War II Jews in Chabon's ambitious and entertaining new novel. It is—deep breath now—a murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller, so perhaps it's no surprise that, in the back half of the book, the moving parts become unwieldy; Chabon is juggling narrative chainsaws here.The novel begins—the same way that Philip Roth launched The Plot Against America—with a fascinating historical footnote: what if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Roosevelt's plan went nowhere, but Chabon runs the idea into the present, back-loading his tale with a haunting history. Israel failed to get a foothold in the Middle East, and since the Sitka solution was only temporary, Alaskan Jews are about to lose their cold homeland. The book's timeless refrain: "It's a strange time to be a Jew."Into this world arrives Chabon's Chandler-ready hero, Meyer Landsman, a drunken rogue cop who wakes in a flophouse to find that one of his neighbors has been murdered. With his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner and his sexy-tough boss, who happens also to be his ex-wife, Landsman investigates a fascinating underworld of Orthodox black-hat gangs and crime-lord rabbis. Chabon's "Alyeska" is an act of fearless imagination, more evidence of the soaring talent of his previous genre-blender, the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.Eventually, however, Chabon's homage to noir feels heavy-handed, with too many scenes of snappy tough-guy banter and too much of the kind of elaborate thriller plotting that requires long explanations and offscreen conspiracies.Chabon can certainly write noir—or whatever else he wants; his recent Sherlock Holmes novel, The Final Solution, was lovely, even if the New York Times Book Review sniffed its surprise that the mystery novel would "appeal to the real writer." Should any other snobs mistake Chabon for anything less than a real writer, this book offers new evidence of his peerless storytelling and style. Characters have skin "as pale as a page of commentary" and rough voices "like an onion rolling in a bucket." It's a solid performance that would have been even better with a little more Yiddish and a little less police. (May) Jess Walter was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for The Zero and the winner of the 2006 Edgar Award for best novel for Citizen Vince. 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
More Reviews at Amazon
MAPS AND LEGENDS
From Booklist
Chabon declares, “I read for entertainment, and I write to entertain. Period.” But of course there’s much more to his vivid and mischievous literary manifesto in 16 parts than that. A writer of prodigious literary gifts, Chabon brings the velocity, verve, and emotional richness intrinsic to the best of short stories to his exceptionally canny and stirring essays. Musing over the various literary traditions he riffs on in his many-faceted novels, he concludes, “All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.” Chabon zestfully praises the many allures of genre fiction and celebrates writers, among them Vonnegut and Byatt, who infuse their fiction with “the Trickster spirit of genre-bending and stylistic play.” He offers a fresh and affecting take on Arthur Conan Doyle and pays witty and provocative tribute to M. R. James, a seemingly serene British author of superb horror and ghost stories. Norse myths, Will Eisner, Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road are all are interpreted with acuity and vigor. And then there are Chabon’s hilarious and puckish personal essays about his early writing misadventures and evolving sense of Jewishness. A writer so versatile he seems to be a master of disguises, Chabon provides invaluable keys to his frolicsome creativity and literary chutzpah in this truly entertaining collection.
A MODEL WORLD
Reviews
'Poignant, affecting, witty, wrenching, a terrific writer.' Washington Post 'Establishes Chabon as one of his generation's most eloquent voices.' New York Times Praise for 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union': 'His almost ecstatically smart and sassy new novel!Chabon is a spectacular writer!a language magician. He has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.' Guardian 'Michael Chabon's brilliant new novel starts with a bang!It hums with humour. It buzzes with gags!the accumulated reading experience is one of admiration, close to awe, at the vigour of Chabon's imagination!a hilarious, antic whirl of a novel.' Sunday Times 'It makes film noir look like film blanc by comparison.' Arena Praise for 'The Wonder Boys': 'The natural exuberance and extravagance of Chabon's writing is matched by dazzling wit.' Sunday Telegraph '"Wonder Boys" is a superb creation, a raucously comic yet deeply lyrical work.' Sunday Times Praise for 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier ? Clay': 'An adventure story that keeps you up until 4 am with the bedside lamp on, eager to learn if the Escapist, and Chabon himself, can free the enslaved and lead them home.' Observer 'Proof of the abiding power of complex, serious, engaged, but above all entertaining story-telling.' Times Literary Supplement 'A page-turning epic, sketching World War II as seen through the eyes of two comic book writers.' Time Out 'A novel of towering achievement.' New York Times 'Absolutely gosh-wow, super-colossal.' Washington Post 
WEREWOLVES IN THEIR YOUTH STORIES
From Publishers Weekly
Applying his ironic talents to even darker material than in previous outings, Chabon has produced a winning collection of nine stories. Failed marriages haunt almost all the protagonists; personal disasters, depressive malaise and sexual violence are recurring themes. In "House Hunting," a realtor is more intent on stealing objects from a house than on showing it to his clients, a troubled young couple. His bizarre incompetence increases the tension between them, finally driving them into one another's arms. A young man flees town in "Mrs. Box," hoping to leave the twin disasters of his marriage and his business behind. He stops to visit his wife's senile grandmother and suddenly resolves to rob her of her jewelry, only to find a half-measure of redemption when his plan misfires. In the title story, Paul is the only one on the school playground who can call Timothy back from his werewolf fantasy, but Paul, who is already taunted for smelling weird, can't risk being associated too closely with his strange pal. As a result, Timothy attacks a fellow student and is reassigned to a "Special School." The closing tale, "In the Black Mill," presented as a story by August Van Zorn, a writer Chabon invented in Wonder Boys, is a brilliant riff on pulp horror tales featuring an archeologist who unearths the terrifying secrets of a small town. Here, Chabon is as witty as ever while dispensing with the glibness that sometimes marred his earlier work. His characters, even whey they are silly and flawed, come across as sympathetic, three-dimensional human beings. 

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