Reading for Robin Crowdsources

Michael ChabonIt’s time to pick what’s next from the list, but I’m having a little difficulty. I’ve already decided I want to take on Michael Chabon (that’s him to the right), but my mom doesn’t offer much guidance. There’s so much to choose from. That’s where you come in!

Hopefully, some of you have read Michael Chabon and are reading this now. I need help choosing between the three Chabon books I am considering. Below are the titles and their descriptions. I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Now let’s get to it…

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier  & Clay:

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers’ Award, New York Library Book Award Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Los Angeles Times Book Award. Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union:

For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. For sixty years they have been left alone, neglected and half-forgotten in a backwater of history. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end: once again the tides of history threaten to sweep them up and carry them off into the unknown.

But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. He and his half-Tlingit partner, Berko Shemets, can’t catch a break in any of their outstanding cases. Landsman’s new supervisor is the love of his life—and also his worst nightmare. And in the cheap hotel where he has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under Landsman’s nose. Out of habit, obligation, and a mysterious sense that it somehow offers him a shot at redeeming himself, Landsman begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy. But when word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, Landsman soon finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, hopefulness, evil, and salvation that are his heritage—and with the unfinished business of his marriage to Bina Gelbfish, the one person who understands his darkest fears.

At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a novel only Michael Chabon could have written.

Manhood for Amateurs:

A shy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of a fabulist, an entire life in parts and pieces, Manhood for Amateurs is the first sustained work of personal writing from Michael Chabon. In these insightful, provocative, slyly interlinked essays, one of our most brilliant and humane writers presents his autobiography and his vision of life in the way so many of us experience our own lives: as a series of reflections, regrets, and reexaminations, each sparked by an encounter, in the present, that holds some legacy of the past.

What does it mean to be a man today? Chabon invokes and interprets and struggles to reinvent for us, with characteristic warmth and lyric wit, the personal and family history that haunts him even as—simply because—it goes on being written every day. As a devoted son, as a passionate husband, and above all as the father of four young Americans, Chabon presents his memories of childhood, of his parents’ marriage and divorce, of moments of painful adolescent comedy and giddy encounters with the popular art and literature of his own youth, as a theme played—on different instruments, with a fresh tempo and in a new key—by the mad quartet of which he now finds himself co-conductor.

At once dazzling, hilarious, and moving, Manhood for Amateurs is destined to become a classic.

If you’ve made it this far, congrats. Here are my thoughts so far: I know people who have read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and liked it. It, along with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, earned great reviews. Manhood for Amateurs is the newest and the one most prominently displayed in Barnes & Noble, which probably sways me more than it should, but I’ve also read a lot of memoirs and may need a break.

Anyone have any opinions they can chime in with?

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4 responses to “Reading for Robin Crowdsources

  1. I haven’t read any of them, but have always wanted to read Kavalier & Clay so I’ll vote for that. Then you can read it and let me know what you think before I dive in!

  2. I loved Kavalier & Clay– more than Wonder Boys, which I think is the only other Chabon book I’ve read. I’d also say that the memoir may not be as compelling without having read Chabon’s fiction.

  3. I haven’t read any buy I would go with Kavalier & Clay. Either way, happy reading!

  4. Pingback: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Amazes All | Reading for Robin

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