Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, proves an enticing read. As usual, Chabon’s characters practically jump off the page and his dialogue is both realistic and somehow magical. He captures a manner of speaking through his characters that many of us wish we employed in real life.
The plot, while tightly thought-out and concluded, seems scattershot and unpredictable throughout, which I loved. I think most of us can identify with Art Bechstein, the main character, as he faces his first summer after graduating from college. Like most of us, he gets more than he bargained for, but none of what he expected.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh feels somehow fantastic while completely rooted in reality. The characters are amplified versions of people you probably know, and the situations Art finds himself in with these over-the-top characters, while not beyond the realm of possibility, are certainly unlikely, and that’s what makes this book so fun and, at times, so heartbreaking. You’ll be amazed at the inappropriate things you’ll find yourself laughing at while reading this work.
While The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is not as complete as Wonder Boys or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, it is still a must read for any fan of Michael Chabon.