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Mysteries Of Pittsburgh: A Novel [Paperback]

Michael Chabon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 23 2005

By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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Mysteries Of Pittsburgh: A Novel + The Final Solution: A Story of Detection + Wonder Boys: A Novel
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

First-novelist Chabon, with "distinctive vision" and "an elegiac, graceful style," spins a story about alienated youth that, while serving up some familiar details of sex, alcohol and drugs, "fully engages the reader in the lives of an appealing cast of characters," said PW .
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'A strikingly accomplished debut' Sunday Times His style has an enviable suppleness and fluency which offers the perfect vehicle for the moral feints and shifts of the cool crowd he portrays TLS Hard as it is to write about youth when you're young, Chabon has done it brilliantly Cosmopolitan Mingles wit, sex and fine writing Sunday Telegraph His control over his story, the wonderful use he makes of each description, of Pittsburgh itself, are often astonishing...a young writer with a tremendous skill New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely coming of age story Sept. 4 2011
By lotara
It's really wonderful to see the beginnings of Michael Chabon's signature style emerge in this tender, often funny coming of age story. It took me back to university and all the strange boundaries we're encouraged to explore and push in those years. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book Oct. 2 2010
The story is very interesting, I just love it. Strongly recommend you to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing...detached...and disengaging. Feb. 9 2010
By Schmadrian TOP 500 REVIEWER
I'm a fan of Chabon's stuff. But I began in the middle of his oeuvre, then over time worked forwards, then backwards. So maybe this informed my reaction to this, his début.

I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I wasn't enthralled. There was a poetic grace at play...but I never felt as charmed as I'd expected I would.

Maybe the problem I had was that the characters are of an 'unformed age'. They don't have all the answers. (They hardly seem interested in the questions.) There's behaviour here that is the domain of the near-adult; a sort of indulgent recklessness that's less energetic than the type teenagers exhibit...maybe dulled by the anticipated onset of adulthood and the flatness it invariably brings. At times Chabon veers towards being precious...but it's only ever a threat. At least that's how I remember it. Of course, what all this means is that he represented the characters' ages well.

There's a definite sparseness in the prose, a softness of declaration that fits with the characters.

And I appreciated how much he left out, especially given that this was a summer's tale.

'The Mysteries of Pittsburgh' is its own tale, regardless of how much it owes to any of the tales that suggested its writing.

But despite all the quiet mastery of its execution, I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It might be the kind of novel best discovered by the reader either by chance or by legacy, rather than having it places in their hand.

Such is Chabon.

Personal rating: 7.5/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me come of age... May 26 2004
By A Customer
I read this book when it first came out, years ago, and felt compelled to response to some of the comments here. This is my first Amazon review.
This book first drew me BECAUSE of the lyrical nature of the writing and the theme of coming-of-age. Yes, Chabon is a walking thesaurus, as others have said of his books, but gee -- LOOK IT UP! Want your books to be pap? Read Dick and Jane, then. Want your language to be simple? Read Hemingway. This is neither.
But, if you want a thoughtful, lyrical story that captures a moment in a young man's life, read this. Then read Chabon's other books. You won't be disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quick and Enjoyable March 28 2004
Reading the other reviews, it seems that fans of Chabon are a little harsh in their reviews of this book ... although it does not compare to Wonder Boys or Kavalier & Clay, the Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a fun read and a charming tale. The larger-than-life personae in this book and the general course of the novel draws immediate comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and of course while such comparisons will come up short, Mysteries of Pittsburgh is an enjoyable, artfully constructed book full of unforgettable characters.
The themes central to this story- love, ambition, uncertainty of oneself as an individual, the futility of running away from one's personal demons to name a few- are more fully developed in Chabon's later works, but they are no less a presence in Mysteries in Pittsburgh. Others have been a bit dismissive of the "first novel" label on this book, but still when looking at a book and at an author it is important to recognize where he or she started creatively and what direction they have moved in. As such, while Mysteries of Pittsburgh is not Chabon's greatest work by any means, it is a good start to the rest of his books and even on its own merits, is certainly worth the time taken to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a solid, enjoyable effort Feb. 6 2004
"The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" was Michael Chabon's first novel, and it certainly feels like it.
The writing is delicate, well-considered, and just a bit precious. The epic, pitch-perfect sentences that color "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" are nowhere to be found in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." The story is standard novice-novelist fare: A sweetly nostalgiac coming of age story, with an obligatory crisis of sexuality. The book's biggest strength is in its characters. They're strong and memorable, and the conversations between them hint at the flair for whip-smart dialogue that is so prevalent and effortless in Chabon's later works it's easy to take for granted. A few of the characters pop up, albeit in different skins, with different context, in "The Amazing Adventures of Kavlier & Clay" and "Wonder Boys."
"The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is a very enjoyable book. The characters ring true, and the story, though it tends toward stasis, is one of the best of its kind. For fans of Chabon, it highlights just how much he's grown as a writer and storyteller. It's profound in a subtle, understated way, and while it is hardly as masterful as the novels that would follow it, it's a solid, pretty, consistent effort from one of modern fiction's greatest writers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not for a first time Chabon reader. Jan. 12 2004
This was my second read from Chabon and while "Wonder Boys" made me a fan, I was a little disappointed with this one. Once again, I found the characters were well developed but the bizarre love triangle between Art, Arthur, and Phlox got to be boring after a while. There were moments I just wanted to scream out loud for him to pick someone and stay in their bed for petes sake!
While I won't recommend this for a first time Chabon reader, it is good if you're bored with nothing else to read. Will I read it again - probably not. But I loved the idea of a family of Jewish gangsters. Plus, Cleveland was what made me really want to finish the novel in the end.
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