Friday, June 01, 2007

Oy Vey, Detective

I just love it when you find an author whose work consistently delights. Michael Chabon is one of those authors for me. I've read a whole bunch of his books from his first novel written in his twenties The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (soon to be a "major motion picture", as they used to write on book dust jackets), through to Wonder Boys and his incredible Pulitzer prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Now I'm about half way through his latest, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

From the Harper Collins website:

What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska - and not Israel - had become the homeland for the Jews after World War II? In Michael Chabon's Yiddish-speaking 'Alyeska', Orthodox gangs in side-curls and knee breeches roam the streets of Sitka, where Detective Meyer Landsman discovers the corpse of a heroin-addled chess prodigy in the flophouse Meyer calls home. Marionette strings stretch back to the hands of charismatic Rebbe Gold, leader of a sect that seems to have drawn its mission statement from the Cosa Nostra - but behind Rebbe looms an even larger shadow... Despite sensible protests from Berko, his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner, Meyer is determined to unsnarl the meaning behind the murder. Even if that means surrendering his badge and his dignity to the chief of Sitka's homicide unit - also known as his fearsome ex-wife, Bina.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union interweaves an homage to the stylish menace of 1940s noir with a bittersweet fable of identity, home and faith. It is a novel of colossal ambition and heart from one of the most important and beloved writers working today.

Taste in books is a very personal thing, so I hesitate to say that everyone will love all of his books, but I presonally really love the inventiveness and humanity Chabon brings to his works. This latest book is no exception. Using the style of '40s 'noir' detective thrillers works surprisingly well as the detectives battle the clannish closed ranks of the Orthodox sects of Sitka. All sorts of stylistic parallels are drawn, the putz, the hardboiled dame, the mob boss, and they all work incredibly well.

Loving it!


Michael said...

Curse you! I've put a moratorium on buying new books. Oh, fuck it. It's that good? Like Kavalier and Clay good?

I've often said we should just give the Jews Petoskey, Michigan. It's gorgeous up there. Golf, boating, skiing, fresh air and clear skies....

The Other Andrew said...

Mr Mike, you'd LOVE this. I'm only half way into it, so I can't vouch for how the story unfolds fully, but so far so fabulous. I thought the place was entirely fictitious, but Sitka is a real place with a history of Russian settlement. Who knew?

Anyhoo, I know you've loved his work in the past so I think you'd like this.

Michael said...

Consider it short-listed.

((When you get bookish, I wanna snog you))

The Other Andrew said...

Back at ya! Pucker up.

Mikey (TLE) said...

And can I just say, fantastic graphic design work on the cover. Just superb.

I've read Wonder Boys and Kavalier & Clay. Both were excellent. I shall have to try this one. See you at Nat's coctail soiree tomorrow afternoon.

The Other Andrew said...

You'll love it Mikey.

(And yes, I'll see you at Nat's!)

Kenyo said...

Speaking of books, I have been meaning to thank you for mentioning
a while ago, Rupert Everett's Autobiography: Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. I got it and saved it for a vacation cruise. Jack and I loved it.

In a somewhat similar category you may well enjoy, Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway by Farley Granger and Robert Calhoun. It was also great for the cruise reading list.

IRV said...

Excellent! I have this on my list of things to read ASAP as I too love all things Chabon. His work is always inventive & captivating to say the least.

The Other Andrew said...

I agree with you irv. Most definately.