29 August 2008

Writing on Reading: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Since Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union won this year's Hugo for best novel, I figured I'd better check it out. After all, lots of WorldCon members voted for it, and if they liked it, then I'd probably like it.

It's easy to find good things to say about the novel. Chabon is a talented wordsmith. He fits more brilliant similes on one page than I can manage in a whole novel. His world is really creative: an alternative world where a Jewish settlement was established in Alaska. He fills the book with all kinds of unique and detailed characters. And thematically, he deals with important issues related to prejudice, isolation, and addiction.

Even with all that, I have to confess I didn't finish the book. I just did not get pulled in emotionally, nor did I care about the "whodunit" aspect of the plot. In some ways, the reading experience was a flashback to my college days, where I'd be reading a classic that I was "supposed" to enjoy, but the most I could manage was a grudging respect for the author. 

So, maybe one of you WorldCon members who voted for the novel can post a comment about why you voted for it. Am I just a doofus who can't appreciate a classic when its right under my nose?


sex scenes at starbucks said...

My mom read this and really enjoyed it.

Gremlin Editor said...

yer a doofus

lesleylsmith said...

Who would call Dave a doofus? Who is this gremlin editor? Dave, you motivate me to read the book. I'm putting it on hold right now! :) I'll let you know what I think.

lesleylsmith said...

I tried to read it but I REALLY couldn't get into it. The present tense was an interesting, if jarring, choice and I was not enjoying all the yiddish jargon. :( I know spec fiction often requires the suspension of confusion...but this was too much work for me in leisure reading. I wish someone who enjoyed it would leave a comment. Maybe it's really great once you get into it?

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