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Mysteries of Pittsburgh: A Novel Paperback – Jul 5 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 5 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060790598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060790592
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #198,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.


"Astonishing."--" The New York Times ""Remarkable."" Los Angeles Times ""Extraordinary."" Village Voice "There's a lot of talk about this novel. It's almost as if there's going to be a great big literary bash. The guys who will be on the guest list are a cinch. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. ... And now, from" The Mysteries of Pittsburgh ," Art Bechstein."--" Washington Post Book World ""A very daring, vivid and exciting book."--" Cosmopolitan ""Absolutely terrific... Michael Chabon continues in that great tradition [of Dickens'" Our Mutual Friend" and Fitzgerald's" The Great Gatsby "]... Anybody can write a realistic account of his first postgraduation summer of growing up and making love, but to make such a story the stuff of legend, as Chabon has done here (and Fitzgerald did before him), takes something close to genius."--" Playboy ""Simply, the best first novel I've read in years. ... It will find its place beside" On the Road" and" Catcher in the Rye .""-- Carolyn Forche"[A] very funny and very eloquent book -- a book that both earns and wears easily such adjectives as 'brilliant'..." The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is a funny, charming, hugely entertaining and excellently written book."--" Pittsburgh Press "The quiet lushness of both the concept and the language are typical of Chabon's fresh, convincing style. What makes the novel extraordinary, however, is the exactness and care with which he manipulates such images and patterns of imagery. ... Making a reader experience again a sense of endless possibility is one of the most satisfying and quintessentially American things an American Bildungsroman can do. Chabon's" The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" addsto the canon one of the rare novels actually able to do it.--" Village Voice "Remarkable. ... What makes this book -- and Chabon -- worth our attentiation is [that] Chabon has chosen not merely to record all the ills of an oversexed, overindulged generation with nowhere to go but to bed or to a bar; he has chosen to explore, to enter this world and try to find what makes it work, why love and friendship choose to visit some, deny others.--" Los Angeles Times "Chabon's writing is deft and delicate -- almost every page includes a delightful phrase or two. He mingles dialogue, the Pittsburgh cityscape, descriptions of the characters' acticity and Art's thoughts and feelings to achieve that magical illusion good novels give -- that the reader is living the character's life with all its savors, jokes and pangs.--" Boston Herald "Chabon writes with unusual sensitivity. His beautifully realized characters are revealed through the perfect pitch of his dialogue.--" Denver Post "Astonishing. ... The voice of a young writer with tremendous skill as he discovers, joyously, just what his words can do.-- Alice McDermott, " New York Times "A thoroughly wonderful novel. ... [It] did two things no book had done for me in a long time: it made me feel good and it took me completely by surprise.David Leavitt

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on March 28 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book a couple of times in my early bookstore days when it first came out. I can't remember why I read it twice. I wasn't particularly enthralled by it. My husband and I watched "The Wonder Boys" last night and enjoyed it. After the movie I was trying to descibe "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" to him and found I couldn't remember any of the details. For some reason I thought both of the main characters were named "Art". Guess I was wrong. My point is, this book was an okay diversional sort of read. It in no way deserves comparison to "The Catcher in the Rye". The characters in this book where a too precious and forced. Most of us know folks with quirky behaviors and habits but it takes more skill than Chabon had at this age to create believably and engaging characters. I never got involved with Art and his friends. For me, reading "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" was like sitting through a well-intentioned indie film. You want to like it but.... A superior novel in a similar vien is "The Object of My Affection". The quirks and foibles of its characters were (generally) far more real. Avoid the movie!!! Good casting, bad script.
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By A Customer on Dec 7 1997
Format: Paperback
I hate reading reviews of books that begin, "The greatest book I ever read, it changed my life!" And so I'm a little embarrassed to write that "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is, uh, the greatest book I ever read, and it changed my life. OK, maybe it didn't exactly change my life, but when I finished the last page and went for a walk, the world was a different place. It was a world of wonder, of possiblity, and I was glad to be a part of it. I'm a Pittsburgher, and a grad student at Pitt, so reading this magical story about neighborhoods I have walked through and bars where I have been shot down had a special resonance for me. The language of the novel is so rich, so beautiful, that I have read and re-read it several times. At times funny, at times tragic, at all times fascinating, it is just a magnificent book. The book is often described, for the most part accurately, as a gay coming-of-age story, and I must at this point confess that I am not gay, not even a little bit. But I still greatly enjoyed reading about the relationship of the two Arthurs, even as I hoped Art would reunite with his wonderfully bizarre Phlox. And I haven't even mentioned the force of nature named Cleveland, or Art's mobster father, or the myriad other delights of this wonderful book. Unlike so many other books written by twentysomethings, this book doesn't dwell on slacker angst or indulge in pointless diatribes about how crummy the world is. This is a book about love, about friendship, about family, and about how precious and tenuous they all are. Like I said, I'm from Pittsburgh, and I love my hometown. Pittsburgh is a bit provincial, it lacks the glamour and glitz of New York or Los Angeles. But Chabon shows that magic can happen anywhere, even in the Hillman Library at Pitt, and that the wonderful mysteries of life can be revealed in the humblest of places. Read this book, and just enjoy the journey.
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