Michael Chabon masterfully renders the funny, tender, and captivating first-person narrative of Art Bechstein, whose confusion and heartache echo the tones of literary forebears like The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield and The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh incontrovertibly established Chabon as a powerful force in contemporary fiction, even before his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay set the literary world spinning. An unforgettable story of coming of age in America, it is also an essential milestone in the movement of American fiction, from a novelist who has become one of the most important and enduring voices of this generation.
This was Chabon's first novel, written while he was still a student, and it shows: there are signs of the style, imagination and playfulness which make Kavalier & Clay as good as it is - but this feels as if he is just trying to fit too many ideas in - and some of it (Phlox's personality, Cleveland's descent) are a bit too cartoonishly drawn.
Really good stuff throughout. And yet, at the end of it all, it still didn’t move me as much as I would expect. A good story and good characters. Yet it still ended with the “what do I care about these people” that often plagues these angsty coming of age stories.
It is not to say that I don’t recommend this book. However, I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone else, either.
"When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer,
This is a thoroughly engrossing and interesting story, beautifully written and full of vitality, wit and humour.