In Regards To The Final Solution, My Apologies To Michael Chabon

I’ve deemed this summer one in which I will reread several books, and one of those book is in fact Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution.  I originally read this novelette sometime in early 2006 and subsequently wrote a scathing review (found here).  During the past seven years, I’ve remembered the book negatively and would not recommend it to others.  This hurt my heart because I tout Michael Chabon as one of America’s greatest living authors and hated to say anything disparaging about him.

I am a fool.

As I reread this book, I am embarrassed, ashamed, and, perhaps most importantly, humbled.

You see, though I’m only half finished with the slender book, I’ve already come to a startling realization about the book’s protagonist, one I never before realized and one that is incredibly significant.  How I didn’t make this deduction seven years ago is beyond me, especially considering I deal with literature and writing regularly in my professional life.  Were I a prouder man, I wouldn’t even reveal this to you.

But wait, let’s see if you can figure it out: the story takes place in 1944 England and features a very old, retired detective.  This detective was once the toast of England, renowned for his brilliance and adventures.  He smokes a pipe, wears an Inverness, and uses a magnifying glass.  Have you solved it?  Yes!  Though only referred to as “the old man” throughout the novelette, he is clearly supposed to be Sherlock Holmes!

I have no idea why I didn’t consider this out upon my first reading, but the book is so much more enjoyable if making this assumption.  So, though I’m not quite done with my rereading, I assure you, it’s thus far a wildly entertaining read if you keep “the old man’s” true identity in mind!

 

My Summer Rereading Program

I teach a class during the school year called Modern Fiction, and it’s basically an independent reading class for upperclassmen.  They get to read virtually whatever they want, but they do have to read each and every day.  If you’re thinking that’s awesome, you’re right.  Furthermore, as any good teacher should, I model expected behavior by reading right along their side.  With two small children at home, this fortunately allows me the opportunity to fulfill my love of reading during the day.

I’ll admit, though, by the end of the school year, I’m a little burned out.  I always struggle to find things I want to read in the summer because I’m both fatigued and also saving books for when the year starts back up.

So, I came up with the perfect solution.  I’ve always told myself that I should reread certain books for different reasons.  Well, this is the perfect time to do so!

In no particular, here are the books that comprise my summer rereading program!

 

Let me know what you’re reading this summer in the comments.  I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon – A Book Review

You don’t know how difficult this is for me, but I really and truly did not care for this book.  You must keep in mind that I’m a big Michael Chabon fan, I’ve even gone so far as to say he IS America’s greatest contemporary author.  But, The Final Solution simply did not ignite a spark for me on any level.

The Final Solution is a mystery story set in the United Kingdom during WWII, but I found the mystery about a missing parrot and a murdered traveler rather uninteresting and unimportant.  Furthermore, Chabon’s characters, which usually jump off the pages at me and shake my hand, did not inspire a connection whatsoever.  His two main characters, an old, retired detective, and a young, mute, boy who escaped the Nazi’s, while dynamic in concept, did not translate onto the paper like other Chabon characters have done in the past.

The Washington Post, New York magazine, and the New York Times all gushed over this novelette (among many, many more), but it didn’t do much for me.  I didn’t even find myself interested in structure or style, which is usually something I can find redeeming in any work I read.

So, while I urge you to check out Michael Chabon if you have not done so already, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book.