The mysteries of Pittsblog

Yet another blogging friend: Adam, from his perch high atop the Cathedral of Learning, blogs about — well, I’ll just quote from the top of his page: “Jewish history and culture, medieval and early modern Europe, academia, American politics and life, Pittsburgh, parenting, urban planning, and anything else that comes to mind…”

By the way, if you haven’t read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon’s first and greatest novel, go do it! The movie’s about to come out and you don’t want to be one of those people who reads the book only after the movie comes out, do you?

Here’s the phrase from that book from which I lifted more or less my entire prose style:

…the library, the dead core of my education, the white, silent kernel of every empty Sunday I had spent trying to ravish the faint charms of economics, my sad and cynical major.”

7 thoughts on “The mysteries of Pittsblog

  1. John Cowan says:

    Greatest? Hey, hey! What about Summerlands?

  2. Em says:

    Chabon is seriously talented. I’m currently enjoying his newest book The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, though I never read Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Although when it was first published I worked in the local public library, and the librarian at our tiny branch masked her envy of the new state-of-the-art branch that had just opened by joking that “they may have everything, but they shelve Mysteries of Pittsburgh in the mystery section.” Nothing like a little bookish humor to break up a 1.5 hr shift where I earned $3.35 per hour.

  3. JSE says:

    Wait, really, is Summerlands great? Something made me leery of it and I never read it. But if you vouch for it I’ll try it.

  4. Adam says:

    Hello from Pittsburgh. I’ve been enjoying your new blog, especially the baseball posts… Harold Baines… good memories.

    I must offer two clarifications:
    1) I know you weren’t being literal about my blogging from the Cathedral of Learning. I never blog from my campus office, however, and I do want everyone to know that. Plus when you’re sitting on top of the Cathedral, it’s too hard to blog while trying to avoid the hawks that live up there.

    2) There is actually a blog called “Pittsblog” about economic development here.
    Just so nobody gets confused.

    I’m looking forward to the movie too, mostly because I enjoy seeing how novels I’ve liked get adapted for film. And, much of it was filmed here so I’m also looking forward to that little thrill that comes from recognizing places in films.

  5. […] in a novel relies on its last word. One good example is the Michael Chabon sentence I quoted last week. Another is a great sentence from a New York Times magazine piece by the not-widely-enough-beloved […]

  6. John Cowan says:

    In order to appreciate Summerland (sorry about the extra s), you pretty much have to put aside whatever you know about (a) Michael Chabon novels (b) fantasy (c) kiddylit. When I first read it I had never even heard of Michael Chabon, so (a) was easy, and I’m used to not worrying about (c) — just because a novel is about children, doesn’t mean it’s fit only for children, if fit for them at all — a point that most reviewers seem alarmingly unable to grasp Point (b) was a bit more difficult for me. So much by way of warning and introductory harumph.

    (Digression: I am in most of my life concerned far less with (superlative) greatest-ness, or even (comparative) greatness, than with (positive) goodness or genuineness. Consequently my remark was partly tongue in cheek. I don’t know or care what the greatest of Chabon’s novels is; what matters to me is that they are good novels. End of digression.)

    But do retain whatever you know about (d) baseball.

  7. […] from Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I have quoted here before: …the library, the dead core of my education, the white, silent kernel of every empty Sunday I […]

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