Michael Chabon: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

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Chabon's debut novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh tells a story of Art Bechenstein who just graduated from college and is about to spent summer in the city. And what a summer it is, with all the new people he's meeting and with his father coming to town more often than before.

"At the beginning of the summer I had lunch with my father, the gangster, who was in town for the weekend to transact some of his vague business."

I was warned that I might not like Chabon's writing. Or more so that I might not like the way he uses his characters to prove a point or get to the place the main character is supposed to be at. And that's exactly what I didn't like, but it like the rest of it. I liked the writing in general, I liked the treatment of the setting, I like the descriptions. But overall I'm not sure I an count as a Chabon fan.

I do enjoy slow-paced books with very little action and base in character development but I rarely enjoy coming-of-age stories in general, especially the ones centred around rich guys. But I didn't hate the story because of that. What I didn't like was the way character (that is other than Art Bechenstein) were treated as a means to an end and he way they were stereotyped. That Arthur had to be promiscuous because he was gay and that Phlox had to be pretentious because she was a French student (very little of them are as pretentious as her in my experience) and the fact that she was easily hated as a homophobic while Arthur was very easily loved just because they were competitors didn't sit well with me. And might be even worse by the fact that a person who has a tendency of putting themselves in the middle of bad relationship(s) have no sympathy from me what so ever.
I also expected more from Clevelend's character, I didn't feel a thing at the end. I think that was because the tragedy of his story is dulled some way or another.

It is however easy to say why it appeals to so many people. The reasons are probably the same as to why it doesn't appeal to me. But it certainly didn't discourage me from reading another Chabon.

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