Friday, September 10, 2010

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Chabon

Oy. I finally finished YPU.

I'm sure it's great; I just had a very hard time getting through it. No doubt that's more of a comment on my mental state than on the novel. Because I wasn't reading as attentively as I ought to have been, I didn't remember the characters that show up again in the last quarter of the novel and are crucial to the religious-political aspects of the plot.

I loved the what-if premise of a Jewish settlement established post WWII in Alaska.  I loved the genre-bending; it' a noir murder mystery, historical sci-fi and a love story rolled into one. I appreciated the cynical take on how the expectation of a messiah can be used and exploited, by those trying to make a buck and by governments.  There was way too much convenient coincidence to suit me, although that's maybe a nod to its noir platform.

Trivia: I noticed that Chabon gives Nabokov (Speak, Memory) a h/t for devising the Zugzwang (the condition of having no good moves) of Mendel Shpilman.

Spoilers behind the cut.
As I was reading, I guessed that everything after Landsman was shot would prove to be a  dream/hallucination sort of thing.  The religious-political plot is so preposterous that it invites that guess.

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