This book was not to my taste.
Don’t get me wrong: I respect Chabon’s skill, but his particular style is not for me. Often, instead of drawing me into the narrative, I found the long descriptive passages pushing me away. I know others find them lyrical and mesmerizing, but I’m generally not a fan of prose for the sake of prose. Get out of the way and just let me enjoy the story, okay?
In this case, the actual story was fairly mediocre; one of the dangers of writing a pastiche is that you either remain too faithful to the genre, or spin it too far into either homage or satire. I feel like there was a lot of subtext here which might have been more significant to someone who’d been raised in Jewish culture, and who understood more about the rifts between different sects and knew the history of the various beliefs.
I also didn’t completely buy the big revelation at the end, though the other members of our book club (DeeAnn, Kathy, and Brian) convinced me of its plausibility. I can believe in a lone gunman; conspiracies are a little harder for me to swallow, and the author just didn’t sell it enough for me. Again, I think other people might have appreciated it more than I did.
Anyway, that was our first “virtual sci-fi book club” selection (we meet using Skype). I’m hoping our next one, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, will be more fun.