Michael Chabon. Harper, $28.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-222555-9
Chabon’s (Telegraph Avenue) charming and elegantly structured novel is presented as a memoir by a narrator named Mike who shares several autobiographical details with Chabon (for one, they’re both novelists who live in the Bay Area). Mike’s memoir is concerned less with his own life than with the lives of his deceased maternal Jewish grandparents, who remain unnamed. His grandfather—whose deathbed reminisces serve as the novel’s main narrative engine—is a WWII veteran with an anger streak (the stint he does in prison after a workplace assault is one of the novel’s finest sections) and a fascination with V-2 rockets, astronomy, space travel, and all things celestial or skyward. Mike’s grandmother, born in France, is alluring but unstable, “a source of fire, madness, and poetry” whose personal history overlaps in unclear ways with the Holocaust, and whose fits of depression and hallucination result in her institutionalization (also one of the novel’s finest sections). Chabon imbricates his characters’ particular histories with broader, detail-rich narratives of war, migration, and technological advances involving such figures as Alger Hiss and Wernher von Braun. This move can sometimes feel forced. What seduces the reader is Chabon’s language, which reinvents the world, joyously, on almost every page. Listening to his grandfather’s often-harrowing stories, Mike thinks to himself, “What I knew about shame... would fit into half a pistachio shell.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 11/22/2016
Genre: Fiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-4417-2630-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-2627-8
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-222557-3
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4434-1872-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-222559-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4434-5327-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-222558-0
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Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-06-246672-3
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-06-222556-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-269547-5
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