Sunday, August 5, 2007

Michael Chabon/THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION

A middle-aged alcoholic divorcee detective gets caught up in one last murder before the impending dissolution of his bureau. Along the way, he stirs up underworld demons and his own dark, tortured history, and the case becomes much a lot more than anyone expected. The twist: the story takes place in fictional Jewish Alaska, on the premise that in 1948 the Jewish colony of Israel had failed and the US government had provided the global Jewish community with a 60-year lease on an Indian Island off its northernmost coast.

This was a really enjoyable read--styled after 1940s pulp detective fiction--seedy hotels, multi-stringed murders, fatal dames, and overblown metaphors aplenty--only thoroughly (and often Hasidically) Jewish. I think the biggest prize about the book, though, is how well Chabon writes. It wasn't work to get through the prose at all, which I can't say for myself about a lot of "well-written" books, but I feel both much smarter and thoroughly entertained having come to the end.

I wasn't actually smart enough to figure out the premise on my own, unfortunately. It took a lot of "wow, there's a huge Jewish community in Alaska?" and fumbling around on Wikipedia for me to understand at last that this was an alternate history. I realize this could have been prevented by reading the flap copy. But I hope you, fellow reader, are a little less thick-headed than I am.

Defintely worth reading.

5 comments:

Rose said...

This one has definitely been on my list of what to read for a while! Of course, the list is about 200 items long on Amazon....

moonrat said...

Yeah, well... at least you can get through 200 items in 100 days!!! Think about the rest of us!!

Froog said...

Fun. I only read about 8 or 10 books a year these days, and that mostly when I'm "on holiday".

However, I have recently started a new job which is likely to involve my spending A LOT of time in airports and on planes, so that strike rate might improve substantially.

Can I join your Book Book club?

angelle said...

waitttt... see? i KNEW there was already an entry by you on this!! fix the other one! or is it just my browser??? weirrrrrrrrrddd...

Leigh Russell said...

This book sounds fun and I'm going to look out for it when I have time in between my day job, my writing and my new addiction to blogging.... I should patronise my local bookshop but might look for it on Amazon-where-my-own-book-has-just-appeared!!! sorry - had to slip that in - I'm a wee bit excited as it's my first time...