Top positive review
Chabon Start With A Winner
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2018
Once or twice each year I abandon my usual genre reading for something different. And a Michael Chabon novel on deep discount made it easy to recognize that the time was right. I have a fondness for the word pictures Chabon paints and the interesting characters that populate his tales.
Only in reading the afterword did I discover that The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh is Chabon's first novel. It was written while he was still a student. What an auspicious beginning!
This is a coming of age story of a young man, Arthur Bechstein, whose father is a Mafia accountant. Arthur has gone to great lengths, he feels, to keep people from knowing who his family is. But Arthur learns that his secret is poorly kept. The new friends that Arthur makes during a summer that he planned to waste somehow know who his father is.
This is not at all a "Mafia" story despite that background. It's more a story of a surprisingly naive young man exploring his sexuality - trying to decide if he is straight, gay, bisexual, whatever. He develops relationships with three characters who define his world for the summer in Pittsburgh. Each of the characters is somewhat quirky and interesting. The time period, as close as I can tell, is the early 1970s and the novel rings true to that period despite having been penned in the late 1980s. That's quite a feat for an author who would have been about 10 years old at the time.
If you choose to read this you won't be doing so for a riveting plot. What passes for action is really quite slow moving. And, there are a few places that seem to have left holes in the narrative. But I encourage you to read this for the interesting characters and the beautiful use of language.