Sunday, March 29, 2009
Michael Chabon/THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH
When Arthur Bechstein graduates from his Pittsburgh college, he doesn't have much--no job, no ambition, no specific interests, no family (his mother died when he was very young and his father is a distant and psychologically abusive white-collar gangster), and no romantic history to speak of, having spent the last several years in unrequited love with a girl who just wanted to be roommates. With nothing specific in front of him and a wallet full of his father's ill-begotten money, Arthur decided to fall in with a set of charming dilettantes: a beautiful gay preppy boy, also named Arthur; his best friend from childhood, an alcoholic petty-crimer named Cleveland; Cleveland's girlfriend, Jane; and Phlox, the hypnotic recovering punk Arthur first met in the library.
I liked this book. It was a quick and compelling read. Arthur is a candid narrator, and his earnest and unashamed sexual identity development feels both realistic and (nearly) romantic. I didn't love it, though, to be honest. Perhaps because I've read Michael Chabon in reverse chronological order, it was overly interesting to me to think about how his writing has grown and developed and which seeds have been there all along. In the end, it was a little bit self-celebratory and plotless, and left a lot of ends loose or unexplored. Since his prose styling is so competent, it is an enjoyable read despite.
I bumped this up on my reading list to make sure I'd finished it before the movie came out this summer. I'm really curious to see what they'll do with it.