Ordinary Human Language

by Brian Crane

The Mysteries of Pittsburg

The Wonder Boys is one of my favourite books. It’s fun and true without being cruel or overly sentimental. Mysteries is a smaller book and lighter in some ways than The Wonder Boys. But its exploration of young people’s first encounters with queer sexuality is just great through and through. This makes Myseries a novel to come back to and probably one to teach. (I think students would like it a lot.)

That said, I’ve realized that Michael Chabon is not one of my favourite writers, however much I might want him to be. When his books are short, I like them and reread them in part or in whole. But when they go on and on, I get tired of quirky situations or oddball traits well before the end and wind up grumbling about (rather than enjoying) the “joy and wonder of it all.” The most obvious example of this is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I’ve tried to read it three times and have never made it much past the midway point.

Posted September 9, 2014