The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Perhaps I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay too long ago to give an accurate description of the work, but what sticks out in my mind is its recommendability. Yes, recommendability. If you know a young man who never finds the time to read – give him this book and he will (he might even be find the time for The Brother’s Karamazov and Anna Karenina afterwards as well). If your mother, or father, is bored of their normal genres – casually drop Chabon’s name in conversation. If you yourself, whatever age, race or gender you are, have a vacation coming up, or a few hours here or there – why don’t you give it a try?
I cannot think of any other book I would equally recommend to a sensitive, literature-addicted woman and an adventure-loving, comic book-reading male teen. It is so readable because Chabon masterfully blends a high-paced action novel with the complexity of the most subtle of literature. His creativity cannot be confined to one genre – so no one has an excuse not to like it.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
As one might expect of a young author’s first novel (published when he was 24), this book focuses more on the use of language and wordplay than on characters or plot. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is an interesting read if you want to investigate where the Amazing Chabon first started, but not really otherwise. Although the book made me laugh out loud and had me groveling at the feet of the author’s linguistic prowess and creativity, it just didn’t add up to a great novel. The plot was weak – the ending was much more dramatic than the book warranted and I distinctly remember the last paragraph as being a bland generalization about relationships with men and women. But, if you read Kavalier and Clay and simply must read everything else by Chabon, you can expect a funny, well-written, if not perfectly constructed, novel.