Michael Chabon's brief 2007 novel Gentlemen of the Road is the kind of story invariably described as "swashbuckling." It involves swordplay, axeplay, horsetheft, mysterious potions, damsels in disguise as well as distress, and, to speak generally, the full panoply of effects common to the kind of boy's adventure story that had its heyday a hundred years ago—though it must be said that few of those older tales, as I recall, were set near the end of the first Christian millennium and in the region of Central Asia dominated by the Khazars, that strange tribe of converts to Judaism; nor did the damsels of such books curse like drunken sailors. The story has chapters with titles like "On Anxieties Arising from the Impermissibility, However Unreasonable, of an Elephant's Rounding Out a Prayer Quorum." It is not remotely the sort of book that anyone would have predicted from Chabon when, twenty-one years ago, he published his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
To repeat my warning from a few weeks ago: avoid at all costs the film adaptation of Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. With that out of the way, enjoy this essay on how Chabon's renewed interest in his own Judaism mirrors themes in recent work. (Christianity Today)