I took a little literary vacation last week, taking a breather from my own writing to read the work of others. I read John Hart’s DOWN RIVER (which won the Edgar for Best Novel) and Michael Chabon’s YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION (which was nominated for the Edgar).
DOWN RIVER was a fine book, and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t find the twists all that surprising and cringed every time the hero, Adam Chase, asked someone to "cut to the chase," which was way too often. Even so, it was an interesting and entertaining read…it felt like a literary take on a typical Gold Medal paperback story.
THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION was wonderful, wildly inventive, and a pure pleasure to read. It’s a police procedural set in an alternate reality in which the atomic bomb was dropped on Berlin, Marilyn Monroe married JFK, and tens of thousands of Jews settled in Alaska while pining for a homeland of their own in Israel. The story is about a troubled homicide detective (naturally) whose investigation into the murder of a junkie peels back the complex layers of society among the refugee Jews of Sitka. Chabon does an amazing job making his alternative history believable and creating a fully realized world without showing the strain. It’s the most refreshingly original, funny, and compelling mystery I have read in years. I loved every page of it and was sorry when it ended.
3 thoughts on “My Weekend Reading”
It also won the Nebula Award for best novel last week.
Am currently reading Chabon’s THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, which is wonderful.
Chabon’s new book of essays, MAPS AND LEGENDS, includes an anecdote about a woman at one book reading who had recently been to Alaska and couldn’t understand how she could have missed all the Jewish landmarks …