here's the thing: i'm always with chabon right at the beginning. i think, "yeah, i'm starting to see why all these people are crazy about chabon" and then my attention begins to wander, and i feel myself getting antsy and i am thinking "aren't we done yet? how the hell did we get here from there?" and then it's the end, and i'm annoyed with him "goddamn you, chabon. you snaked me once again". this, his first novel, was for me, no different.
i liked the easy beginning, the promise of what mysteries that summer in pittsburgh would hold. but then it seems to me i could feel his writing hand start to cramp, his muse sputtering out before a live studio audience. for a first effort i think this really does sing for a short while, until as always it devolves into some silly potboiler stuff, which in and of itself doesn't hurt if that's what it was to start with, but doesn't pay off the fluidity and promise of his beginnings. i do think he's got a knack for characterization. and he did gift me with this marvel, the perfectly vivid description at the end of this sentence:
"Huge posters covered the walls, of Diana Ross and the Supremes, of Arthur Rimbaud, and of the immense gibbous face of garbo
can you see that perfect moon of garbo's face bending out toward you? as soon as i read that sentence, i saw her in my mind's eye, beckoning from my subconscious where the form of beauty, constant lives. hats off to you, chabon, for that phrase, it really is tremendous.
here she is for those of you who can't see her:
but boo to the people who ranked the namby pamby protagonist art bechstein up there with tom sawyer, huck finn, and holden caulfield. i mean, really. not even remotely.
and don't even get me started about the poor dogs.
i'm going to say 2.5 stars. and maybe i'll go vent about kavalier & clay while i'm at it. :)