Thursday, September 04, 2008

72. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" - Michael Chabon

First, this is no Kavalier and Clay. But, it is another unique turn for prolific writer, Michael Chabon.

A historical-alternative world-mystery-detective novel, it begins with the founder of the self-proclaimed Yiddish Policemen's Union, Meyer Landsman. Drunk and depressed, he is living his post-divorce life in a dump of a hotel in downtown Sitka, Alaska, a place where all of the (just pretend now, class) displaced Jews from WWII were, well, placed. Everyone speaks Yiddish, but some also speak "American."

The death of a heroin-addict/messiah/chess player in his hotel sparks Landsman into the murder mystery of his career, spinning him back into the clutches of a hipster ex-wife (now his boss).

The plot is difficult because of all the changes in history (there is a "Polish Free State" and the Soviets lost WWII), as well as several intertwining, impossibly connected families. There is a shocker of an ending, partly due to the red herring writing style of the detective genre.

Still, it's got fantastic, snappy dialogue, which is probably why the Coen brothers are already set to direct the movie. Personally, I think this is the second time in my life where I'll prefer the flick to the book.

2.0 out of 5.0 Holy Fucks.


moonrat said...

interesting. i was just crazy about this book--totally transported. this was the first chabon i read, and then i had to go on and read all the others.

i have to say, though, the only book of his i like as much (or maybe better, it's hard to say because of the order in which i read them) was K&C.

Kristin Dodge said...

And I read K&C first and lost it. Kids went hungry and dogs were neglected until I finished that book (in about two days).

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