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The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh Paperback – July 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060790598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060790592
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-novelist Chabon, with "distinctive vision" and "an elegiac, graceful style," spins a story about alienated youth that, while serving up some familiar details of sex, alcohol and drugs, "fully engages the reader in the lives of an appealing cast of characters," said PW .
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'A strikingly accomplished debut' -- Sunday Times 'His style has an enviable suppleness and fluency which offers the perfect vehicle for the moral feints and shifts of the cool crowd he portrays' -- TLS 'Hard as it is to write about youth when you're young, Chabon has done it brilliantly' -- Cosmopolitan 'Mingles wit, sex and fine writing' -- Sunday Telegraph 'His control over his story, the wonderful use he makes of each description, of Pittsburgh itself, are often astonishing...a young writer with a tremendous skill' -- New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Very interesting story.
Lynda J Brown
Chabon's first novel perfectly embodies the sharp wit and developing writing style of Michael Chabon.
J. Mullin
And maybe this is because I know that this book was Chabon's college thesis but it felt like it.
Nate Kowal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
I hate reading reviews of books that begin, "The greatest book I ever read, it changed my life!" And so I'm a little embarrassed to write that "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is, uh, the greatest book I ever read, and it changed my life. OK, maybe it didn't exactly change my life, but when I finished the last page and went for a walk, the world was a different place. It was a world of wonder, of possiblity, and I was glad to be a part of it. I'm a Pittsburgher, and a grad student at Pitt, so reading this magical story about neighborhoods I have walked through and bars where I have been shot down had a special resonance for me. The language of the novel is so rich, so beautiful, that I have read and re-read it several times. At times funny, at times tragic, at all times fascinating, it is just a magnificent book. The book is often described, for the most part accurately, as a gay coming-of-age story, and I must at this point confess that I am not gay, not even a little bit. But I still greatly enjoyed reading about the relationship of the two Arthurs, even as I hoped Art would reunite with his wonderfully bizarre Phlox. And I haven't even mentioned the force of nature named Cleveland, or Art's mobster father, or the myriad other delights of this wonderful book. Unlike so many other books written by twentysomethings, this book doesn't dwell on slacker angst or indulge in pointless diatribes about how crummy the world is. This is a book about love, about friendship, about family, and about how precious and tenuous they all are. Like I said, I'm from Pittsburgh, and I love my hometown. Pittsburgh is a bit provincial, it lacks the glamour and glitz of New York or Los Angeles. But Chabon shows that magic can happen anywhere, even in the Hillman Library at Pitt, and that the wonderful mysteries of life can be revealed in the humblest of places. Read this book, and just enjoy the journey.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
When you consider Chabon's age at the writing of this book, it becomes even more unbelievable. This is hands down the best book that I've read in the last five years; here is, finally, a concise, dramatic representation of our young generation in the full swing of hope and misery. Chabon avoids hackneyed situations, dialogue and emotions; he avoids sentimentality in its most over-used definition, but his outlook on the characters' relationships is cogent and convincing. I was left breathless by his ability to make us care for people, to show us, with a little humor, the dark sides of us all, and Chabon makes us all feel a little less ashamed of our involvement in life. He is a truly generous writer, in love with his work, and sensitive to the reader. His characters in this book represent us all, and he has, with a single first book, raised the stakes where modern writing is concerned. This book will be remembered for generations; it would be a sign of wisdom to recognize it now.
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135 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Elliott on July 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book because I am a fan, Wonder Boys and Kavalier and Clay were so good, I wanted to read what Chabon had written first, what he wrote that perhaps wasn't so good. Anybody that has read Wonder Boys and Kavalier and Clay knows that these are beautiful, near flawless books, almost impossible to critique. But here, in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I found it. This book has dead spots, particularly in the beginning. In fact, I nearly put it down after thirty pages. But then something happens. The characters start to cohere, the reader starts to care, and we are introduced to an improbable and amazing character named Cleveland.
This is a book about the first summer after college, an improbable time dizzying and dazzling in promised freedom, a time of bright hope for the future, when many of us decide who we will or will not be. It's also a cliche, a topic written about many times, and the kind of story that in lesser hands would make for a pretty dull book. But Chabon pulls all the tragic beauty and confusion from it. In the end, your left with a book stunning in its insight, so full of empathy that in many ways I feel it is better than it's more polished brethren. It's the kind of book a writer can only write once and I'm glad he did. I'm also glad he didn't try to do it again but rather moved on, became a polished fiction writer who relied more on his storytelling ability than past experience. I would call this book indespensible for any fan of Chabon's writing.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on March 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Everybody has to start somewhere, and Michael Chabon, who has developed into a first class author, started out with Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
A first novel by a very young author, this book was highly acclaimed at it's release, winning several major awards, and generating accolades to Chabon that compared him to the likes of J. D. Salinger, Mark Twain and so on.
All the hype and awards might seem a bit much in retrospect, as this is not a world class novel either in terms of the writing or the concept. However, it is probably best to remember the time in which it was released-1988-and if you look at the book in the context of those times. That was a time when the fear arising from the confusion and ignorance and politicizing of AIDS were at their height, and the literati no doubt latched onto this honest and angst filled appraisal of the road to personal understanding of alternative sexuality as much for the social vales of the text as much as-if not more than-for it's intrinsic artistic value.
It's not a bad book, but the craftsmanship with words, style and execution pale compared to some of Chabon's later work. That being said, there are nevertheless long sections where the emerging talent is very much on display and the reading quite enjoyable.
I found many of the characters other than Art to be a bit too stereotypish but, then again, this is a first novel and that's not an altogether phenomenon for the first time author.
In the end I was glad I read the book. It did lead me on to other Cahbon works, and that has proven to be a very pleasant journey. My guess is that if you approach this with the expectation you are reading a first effort and don't get too bogged down in the hype and overheated reviews on both sides, you'll end up glad you gave it a go as well.
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More About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves in Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Maps and Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and the middle grade book Summerland.

He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. You can visit Michael online at www.michaelchabon.com

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