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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh [Hardcover]

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

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Book Description

April 1988
The acclaimed New York Times bestseller.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

Review

'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 the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick and Enjoyable March 28 2004
Format:Paperback
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
Format:Paperback
"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 Mysteries of Beckstein Nov. 30 2003
Format:Paperback
Part straight, part gay, part student, part bookstore employee and full time narcissist, Art Beckstein spends his summer after college graduation looking for love, I mean friends, I mean direction I mean . . .? From a lovers spat on a street corner where he meets Art Lecomte (who looks at the couple fighting and remarks "Some people really know how to have a good time") to the basement library where Phlox lies in wait, to the once regal Pittsburgh Hotel where he father's mob gang hangs out, Art's summer becomes full of booze, small time crime and back-alley liaisons (more ways than one).
Is this a coming of age book? Indeed the reviews on the cover lift this work up with Fitzgerald, Caulfield, Twain, Dickens and, be still my heart, Kerouac. What? Sorry, this does not belong to that club.Were these obsequious comparisons lifted off the cover of The Wonder Boys or Kavalier & Clay?
This tale is a sometimes funny, sad, silly and ugly one, but an always entertaining account of that summer.
Upon reflection did he learn anything? Grow at all? Did he find where friendship ends and love begins, or vice-versa? Or what the difference between lusting and making love is? I don't think so. He explored pleasures and found his gangster father, an outlaw biker (the father has a strong opinion on this friendship), a liberated librarian (Phlox) and a male friend (Art Lecomte) that challenges his sexual persona while aching to prove that "he really knew how to have a good time."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wincing and Laughing Nov. 26 2003
Format:Paperback
I am such a big fan of Wonder Boys (ha! you thought I was going to say Kavalier & Clay, didn't you?) that I've been wanting to read this book for a while, but after I read Chabon's interview with Barbara Shoup in the craft collection Novel Ideas (I do recommend this book), I was even more inspired to buy a copy-- Chabon reports that he went into Workshop with the novel already written (though it was all but completely re-written) and, being roughly the same age as Chabon was then and of roughly the same aspirations, I wanted to see what was worthy of such praise as "solid writing" and a "brilliant first effort." I have to warn you that I just also re-read that undermining little black book called "A Reader's Manifesto" (Myers) (I definitely recommend this book), so I was on attack mode. I can honestly say that Pittsburgh had me laughing and wincing in equal amounts. First effort or not, it's a book and you don't make excuses for books that are published, best-sellers and critically acclaimed (It doesn't really help a reader of reviews to know that "this is his first book"- you're basically telling them "let's cut him some slack" and that's why you're giving him 5 out of 5 stars). Let's say the prose here is wordy and tries too hard to funny- it's like a new perm on the first day: really tight and kinked up until you sleep on it. After a while, it loosens, relaxes a little and the "style" looks more natural. That's the Chabon chronological reading experience.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely coming of age story
It's really wonderful to see the beginnings of Michael Chabon's signature style emerge in this tender, often funny coming of age story. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2011 by lotara
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book
The story is very interesting, I just love it. Strongly recommend you to read it.
Published on Oct. 2 2010 by Catherinechueng
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing...detached...and disengaging.
I'm a fan of Chabon's stuff. But I began in the middle of his oeuvre, then over time worked forwards, then backwards. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2010 by Schmadrian
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me come of age...
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. Read more
Published on May 26 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for a first time Chabon reader.
This was my second read from Chabon and while "Wonder Boys" made me a fan, I was a little disappointed with this one. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by Kelly Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Still figuring out the mysteries of pittsburgh
first of all i read this book after reading The wonder boys, another fantasic book. I live in pittsburgh which partly made me love this book. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2003 by Nell
5.0 out of 5 stars Chabon is still the best...
This is the last Chabon book that I've read (even though it was his first) and he consistently proves himself a genius in my eyes. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by JR Pinto
3.0 out of 5 stars Just a Book
It is probably my fault for expecting too much of a first novel. After reading Kavalier and Clay, I fell in love with Chabon's superb style and eloquence, and decided to read The... Read more
Published on Sept. 8 2003 by RV
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Start
For any book, "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is really good, but for a first novel, it's tremendous. The quality of Chabon's writing is so high, it makes me a little depressed to think... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003 by BJ Fraser
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