Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reading Journal: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union"

Clara and I were invited to join a book group, and this was the first selection. I wouldn't have read it otherwise, so I'm extremely grateful to Jeff and Mary for inviting us to join the group. This is a terrific novel. But because Jeff is reading this blog right now, I will refrain from saying all the things I might say about the novel, lest he steal my ideas and dazzle everyone with them at the book group. I will say that Michael Chabon's novel is a stunning, audacious feat of the imagination. Imagine that there is no state of Israel, and that during World War II America provided temporary asylum to thousands of European Jews in Sitka, Alaska. Now imagine a Yiddish-speaking, slivovitz-swilling noz (police detective) named Meyer Landsman investigating a homicide among the down-and-out chess players and Hasidic mafia of Jewish Sitka on the eve of its reversion to American control. Still with me? You'll be with Michael Chabon every step of the way as soon as you open this novel. Chabon is a breathtakingly inventive writer. His descriptions are pure gold, his writing is peppered with similes that make you gasp with admiration at their unexpected aptness. Every detail of his Yiddish Sitka is beautifully imagined, down to the smallest detail. Even a WASP like me begins to feel nostalgia for this lost world that never was.

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Two New Online Publications

Two of my very brief essays were published online this summer. The first was the essay " Telephone ," which appeared in June in t...