Sunday, January 20, 2008


At the end of the 10th century, two friends--a spindly blonde Frankish scarecrow of a young man with a narrow sword, and a giant grey-haired African warrior with an axe (and both Jewish! Who would have guessed?)--make their way along the westernmost fringes of the silkroad, where they fall in with an angry young prince who has been dispossessed of his kingdom.

I think perhaps Mr. Chabon has been writing a bit too quickly. This book did not rock my world the way KAVALIER & CLAY or YIDDISH POLICEMEN did (I know it's tacky to compare an author's work to itself, but this book does strike me as a lackluster or at least only half-achieved novel in his oeuvre). There was so much potential for world recreation, dazzling adventure, deep emotional significance. Instead, the writing left so much of the plot implied (as opposed to expressed) that it was often hard engage with the narrative or to connect dots between events. The book was short--too short for the ambitious plot, in my opinion, and I rarely complain that a book is too short. I'm actually really sad, because I think there was a lot of potential for this novel to be much more. As it was, I actually had trouble getting through because the narrative was so shallow.

It was, however, a beautiful package--nice two-color typesetting, beautiful initial capitals and a border decoration on chapter openers, nice drawings throughout. That doesn't, you know, save the story.

1 comment:

cyn said...

wow, this guy is all over the place with the things he writes? that's kind of neat. too bad he didn't follow through so well with the tale itself, tho.