The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Summary ✓ 104

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Summary The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The enthralling debut from bestselling novelist Michael Chabon is a penetrating narrative of complex friendships father son conflicts and the awakening of a young man’s sexual identityChabon masterfully renders the funny tender and captivating first person narrative of Art Bechstein whose c. Like most stellar first novels this one has that autobiographic vibe that perhaps the writer's future novels will only barely bravely hint at This one is a coming out story basically The protagonist is gay bi experimenting There are overly masculine gay symbols throughout which obviously take no great psychoanalyst to pry open mysterious men in motorbikes gangsters gaming the faraway suburbs seeming faraway dreams that'll never be The world so fully inhabited by BRET EASTON ELLIS is likewise the playing field in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh though in this case the end of college and not high school or during college like in Ellis is marked by booze drugs sex like ya know uber bohemian proclivitiesYes this one is actually better than Less Than Zero another effort at displaying the antics of 20 to 25 year olds still shaping out lives but not as masterful as The Rules of Attraction where indeed no character WAS attractive but the overall ambivalence was

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Onfusion and heartache echo the tones of literary forebears like The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield and The Great Gatsby’s Nick CarrawayThe Mysteries of Pittsburgh incontrovertibly established Chabon as a powerful force in contemporary fiction even before his Pulitzer Prize winning. My eyes rolled so much when reading this I thought they might pop out of their sockets This is one of our great American writers A Pulitzer Prize winner What a sad state of affairs that is I suppose Kavalier Clay is the one I'm supposed to readbut since I received this from the publisher for free and it was by Chabon I thought at least it would be good if not greatIt was terrible Just awful There was almost nothing about it that I liked It was nearly unbearable and I would have put it aside without finishing it if I hadn't owed the publisher an honest review based on the free book The Mysteries of Pittsburgh really got on my nerves First person stories can be tricky You have to be willing to live with the character for an entire book The main character here was a whiny douchebaggy lying pseudo witty insecure recent college grad trying to find himself I just wanted to constantly slap him not to hear his semi clever little jokes and his oh so tedious struggle with deciding if he was gay or not gay Get the fuck over it buddy I couldn't care about this guys struggle to decide whether or not to cheat on his girlfriend whom he thought he loved with this charming Machiavellian hipster dude I have no doubt there are many in society today who struggle with their gender ambiguity But reading about this sort of whiny struggle in the 80s didn't provide any better understanding about the struggle today It's seemed so datedthis book has lost its relevancy since it was published in 1988Perhaps that is mainly due to the awkwardness and contrived nature of all the relationship in this particular book I'm sure in the hands of other capable authors a story of facing ones gender ambiguity could be meaningful in ANY time setting But in this particular story the storytelling no longer seemed relevant I would think that almost everyone who reads Pulitzer Prize winning mainstream literary authors is 999% likely to be socially liberal even if they are economically libertarian So who is gaining empathy for someone struggling with being gay in the 80s We've moved on past this and the battle lines are clearly set between the right wing racisthomophobes authoritarians who support the Republican party and the liberal humanists who range from supporting Democrats to anarchists socialists etc Right wing homophobes are not reading Chabon and aren't going to be moved either by this annoying hipster college grad weiner who can't make up his mind about what he is If you are trying to get readers to accept and like someone struggling with gender ambiguity then create someone we can care about The other characters were eually smarmy phony and awkwardly written And their relationships were just odd and a few steps off from realistic I liked none of them nor believed any of them despite the profusion of tiny character details intended to build realism I fluctuate in my appreciation for realistic characters and experimentalism in literature It's books like these where they teeter between contrived details to create believability and uality writing yes he's not incompetent as a writer where I become most disgusted by realism feeling the author is just attempting to trick the reader into believing his storyThis book's premise seems dated it literally is being set in the 80s and besides the point In fact it's so besides the point that the supposedly realistic characters in this book never ONCE mentioned anything about politics It's set in the 80s when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were Presidents for fuck's sake And not a single mention of it by any character These were all kids just graduated or recently graduating college And the government never once crossed their mind That reinforced the bizarre myopia for me And writing about Pittsburghif the setting was important enough to put in the title then what was the point of that What did we learn about Pittsburgh One would think we would learn about the experience of living in Pittsburgh perhaps the collapse of the steel industry and blue collar career opportunities and unions would be some aspect of the book Nope For some reason Chabon elected to choose semi intellectual college grads who seems like New Yorkers to represent the city And gangsters Yes old school mafia gangsters These choices baffled me and felt completely irrelevant to understandthe city or anyone for that matter Post college grads trying to find themselves could happen in any city but somehow this was supposed to represent Pittsburgh And somehow the recognition one's gayness or bisexuality gets mashed up with dealing with his father being in the mafia It was a schizophrenic muddle that did not come togetherI get the feeling some of the relationship stories in here were fictionalized autobiography Big Deal They made for a terrible and terribly annoying story If this character was somehow based himself then all I can say he he makes a terrible character that I wanted to run over with a carMysteries of Pittsburgh More like the Mysteries of Why Chabon Wrote this Self Indulgent Waste of Time It's just a bad book​

Michael Chabon ✓ 4 Summary

Novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay set the literary world spinning An unforgettable story of coming of age in America it is also an essential milestone in the movement of American fiction from a novelist who has become one of the most important and enduring voices of this generati. I wanted to like this than I did Perhaps it is because I started reading this as the Covid 19 ramped up but I had a really hard time with the narrative It just didn't propel me very hard Maybe I'll comeback someday and re evaluate it but I've loved several Chabon novels A LOT But few books have made me feel worse about not liking them I feel a bit guilty and ungenerous but I still just can't say I loved it The Flintstones Stone Age Nursery Rhymes the literary world spinning An unforgettable story of coming of age in America it is also an essential milestone in Herotica 4: A New Collection of Erotic Writing by Women the movement of American fiction from a novelist who has become one of El Diablero the most important and enduring voices of Superdate this generati. I wanted The Cooking Book to like The Complete Idiot's Guide to Smoothies this Black Men Magazine Reality TV Issue with bonus 2012 Calendar (Draya Michele cover) than I did Perhaps it is because I started reading Backyard Harvest: A year-round guide to growing fruit and vegetables this as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Journalism the Covid 19 ramped up but I had a really hard Sniffles and Sneezes (DK Readers L2) time with Disaster Preparedness: A Living Free Guide (Living Free Guides) the narrative It just didn't propel me very hard Maybe I'll comeback someday and re evaluate it but I've loved several Chabon novels A LOT But few books have made me feel worse about not liking The Complete Idiot's Guide to Persuasion them I feel a bit guilty and ungenerous but I still just can't say I loved it


10 thoughts on “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

  1. says:

    Like most stellar first novels this one has that autobiographic vibe that perhaps the writer's future novels will only barely bravely hint at This one is a coming out story basically The protagonist is gay bi experimenting There are overly masculine gay symbols throughout which obviously take no great psychoanalyst to pry open mysterious men in motorbikes gangsters gaming the faraway suburbs seeming faraway dreams that'll never be The world so fully inhabited by BRET EASTON ELLIS is likewise the playing field in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh though in this case the end of college and not high school or during college like in Ellis is marked by booze drugs sex like ya know uber bohemian proclivitiesYes this one is actually better than Less Than Zero another effort at displaying the antics of 20 to 25 year olds still shaping out lives but not as masterful as The Rules of Attraction where indeed no character WAS attractive but the overall ambivalence was


  2. says:

    Michael Chabon looking remarkably like how I envisioned his protagonist looking in The Mysteries of Pittsburg“When I remember that dizzy summer that dull stupid lovely dire summer it seems that in those days I ate my lunches smelled another's skin noticed a shade of yellow even simply sat with greater lust and hopefulness and that I lusted with greater faith hoped with greater abandon The people I loved were celebrities surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them movie lots and monuments No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia which obliterates the past and no doubt as usual I have exaggerated everything”There are moments in time that are demarcation lines in our lives They might involve deaths loves the culmination of clarity or in the case of Art Bechstein a summer of chaos He has issues In fact his issues are so large that other issues are building hotels spas and skyscrapers on his original issues He has the mysterious death of his mother lingering like a ghost over everything he does When feeling pressured at all he bursts into tears in front of his gangster father He has just graduated from college and is starting the summer the last summer of discovery before he has to decide what he will do with the rest of his life I would reassure him that there will be many moments like this as middle age descends upon him like a hammer and a series of midlife crises buffer him about like chaff swirling in the back of a grain truck We’ve all been thereshitI graduatednow what?The prospects are rarely clear cut for most of us except for those few who have been focused on a career path since the age of seven I must admit as difficult as these decisions are Art has a few things bothering him as well that I haven’t mentioned yet I don’t like the fact that he calls himself Art It diminishes him even further Of course one of his best friends is also Arthur Arthur Lecomte and he is way too suave well dressed cultured and charming to be called anything but Arthur Art isn’t really sure why Arthur likes him but he suspects that it may be because he wants to seduce him When the path forward is so uncertain what a great time to uestion one’s sexual orientation as well? Art has wrestled with it before in high school when he was experiencing a long drought of female disinterest Once girls started paying attention to him again he put all those homosexual thoughts on a backburner but now that he is hanging around with Arthur he is starting to wonder about his sexuality once Is it because he wants to be like Arthur? He has a girlfriend named Phlox Lombardi ”Everything about her that was like a B girl or a gun moll a courtesan in a bad novel or an actrice in a French art movie about alienation and ennui; her overdone endearments and makeup; all that was in uestionable taste and might have embarrassed me or made me snicker I had come to accept entirely to look for and even to encourage She delighted me as did bouffant hairdos and Elvis Presley art When she came out of her bedroom dressed in a nylon kimono and huge slippers of turuoise fur I was almost dizzy with appreciation and the gaudy plastic Twister mat at my feet seemed to be the very matrix the printed plan of everything I liked about her”He is right in thinking that Arthur and Phlox are way cooler than he is and should be uestioning why they like to hang out with him As he navigates his feelings for both of them I start to feel like Art is responding to the desires of others rather than to his own feelings He loves both of them He isn’t wrong about that but he dangles both of them as if by some miracle they could all be together A triangle of love and lust that will not reuire Art to choose The problem of course is Arthur and Phlox are insisting that he must pick Frankly I think both Arthur and Phlox once they experience Art’s dithering should have both dropped him like a hot potato Art is worried about this Both are well aware that Art needs them and maybe that is why they allow him to play with their emotions as he tries to figure out his own muddled desires The problem is once he chooses one he loses the other Art and Arthur have a mutual friend named Cleveland He is a force of nature who takes too many drugs drinks too much and rides his motorcycle like a blazing comet while under the influence He wants to ”eat the entire world” He is flailing at the world like an inebriated and crazed Don uixote and of course the windmills will win He has visions of being a gangster and insists that Art introduce him to his father The faster Cleveland tries to ascend the closer he gets to the sun and we know what happened to Icarus This is certainly a coming of age story When it first came out many compared it to Catcher in the Rye which is something publishers routinely do for any coming of age story that has some literary merit The comparison has been used so much that readers practically roll their eyes when they see yet another reference to J D Salinger’s masterpiece Although Art Bechstein is no Holden Caulfield there is a legitimate search for the truth going on in this novel This book does capture the peculiarities of the ‘80s and the emergence of the modern age when people felt comfortable talking about their sexual orientation with complete honesty If you had told me back then we would still be grappling with homosexual issues in 2020 I would have thought you were crazy In this first novel Michael Chabon is already showing the great promise of the amazing writer he was going to become I thought it was interesting reading an interview with him that he mentioned that he felt like a failure Here is a celebrated novelist who has won numerous awards for his writing who still feels the lash of any criticism I’m glad that he continues to muscle through those misdoubts that have been sown in his mind by critics who have obviously failed to understand just how good a writer he is This is an excellent first novel that any writer would be proud to call their own FYI a movie was made based on the book in 2008 which was directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starred Jon Foster Peter Sarsgaard Sienna Miller Nick Nolte I haven’t seen the movie but hope to see it sometime this month If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at and an Instagram account


  3. says:

    So I loved this book and kind of wanted it to be my life the way certain people I could name but won't feel about The Sun Also Rises I was about fifty pages in tops before I found myself casting the movie in my head I deliberately avoided looking at the cast list until after I finished reading the book; thank god I did I would have liked the book I estimate about 46% less had I know while reading it that Mena Suvari plays Phlox Appalling Or to be honest imagining myself as the lead character in the movie of the book Or to be even honest imagining myself as the lead character in the real life version of the book I haven't done this since I don't think and funnily enough Fortress of Solitude Not coicidentally another book that takes place appealingly in a culturally signified past; I think it helps if you're going to try to place yourself in a story it helps to be able to place the story in a time and place that already seems and looks like part of history as opposed to the uncertainly defined present Yeah I know there are a hell of a lot of other things literature can do but this was the first of the things that literature can do that literature did to me and I'm glad to be reminded of how it feelsAnd you know what? Chabon knows exactly what he's doing It's so obviously semi autobiographical embellished and romanticized crime great food copius sex adventures but essentially a not uite as young as he once was man's marvel at his youth and sadness at its passing I'm fairly certain I could have figured this out even if I had read an essay to that effect once Chabon makes it clear I think exactly how aware he is of all this with passages about the will to bigness and the narrator's closing admission about his tendency to exaggerate So The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a book about how art can make life bigger and better than it isI should also mention that one of the reasons it pulls this off is because there's a memorable image uotable bit of dialogue fresh observation or hilariously perfect and original turn of phrase on pretty much every page of the thing


  4. says:

    My eyes rolled so much when reading this I thought they might pop out of their sockets This is one of our great American writers? A Pulitzer Prize winner? What a sad state of affairs that is I suppose Kavalier Clay is the one I'm supposed to readbut since I received this from the publisher for free and it was by Chabon I thought at least it would be good if not greatIt was terrible Just awful There was almost nothing about it that I liked It was nearly unbearable and I would have put it aside without finishing it if I hadn't owed the publisher an honest review based on the free book The Mysteries of Pittsburgh really got on my nerves First person stories can be tricky You have to be willing to live with the character for an entire book The main character here was a whiny douchebaggy lying pseudo witty insecure recent college grad trying to find himself I just wanted to constantly slap him not to hear his semi clever little jokes and his oh so tedious struggle with deciding if he was gay or not gay Get the fuck over it buddy I couldn't care about this guys struggle to decide whether or not to cheat on his girlfriend whom he thought he loved with this charming Machiavellian hipster dude I have no doubt there are many in society today who struggle with their gender ambiguity But reading about this sort of whiny struggle in the 80s didn't provide any better understanding about the struggle today It's seemed so datedthis book has lost its relevancy since it was published in 1988Perhaps that is mainly due to the awkwardness and contrived nature of all the relationship in this particular book I'm sure in the hands of other capable authors a story of facing ones gender ambiguity could be meaningful in ANY time setting But in this particular story the storytelling no longer seemed relevant I would think that almost everyone who reads Pulitzer Prize winning mainstream literary authors is 999% likely to be socially liberal even if they are economically libertarian So who is gaining empathy for someone struggling with being gay in the 80s? We've moved on past this and the battle lines are clearly set between the right wing racisthomophobes authoritarians who support the Republican party and the liberal humanists who range from supporting Democrats to anarchists socialists etc Right wing homophobes are not reading Chabon and aren't going to be moved either by this annoying hipster college grad weiner who can't make up his mind about what he is If you are trying to get readers to accept and like someone struggling with gender ambiguity then create someone we can care about The other characters were eually smarmy phony and awkwardly written And their relationships were just odd and a few steps off from realistic I liked none of them nor believed any of them despite the profusion of tiny character details intended to build realism I fluctuate in my appreciation for realistic characters and experimentalism in literature It's books like these where they teeter between contrived details to create believability and uality writing yes he's not incompetent as a writer where I become most disgusted by realism feeling the author is just attempting to trick the reader into believing his storyThis book's premise seems dated it literally is being set in the 80s and besides the point In fact it's so besides the point that the supposedly realistic characters in this book never ONCE mentioned anything about politics It's set in the 80s when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were Presidents for fuck's sake And not a single mention of it by any character? These were all kids just graduated or recently graduating college And the government never once crossed their mind? That reinforced the bizarre myopia for me And writing about Pittsburghif the setting was important enough to put in the title then what was the point of that? What did we learn about Pittsburgh? One would think we would learn about the experience of living in Pittsburgh perhaps the collapse of the steel industry and blue collar career opportunities and unions would be some aspect of the book Nope For some reason Chabon elected to choose semi intellectual college grads who seems like New Yorkers to represent the city And gangsters Yes old school mafia gangsters These choices baffled me and felt completely irrelevant to understandthe city or anyone for that matter Post college grads trying to find themselves could happen in any city but somehow this was supposed to represent Pittsburgh? And somehow the recognition one's gayness or bisexuality gets mashed up with dealing with his father being in the mafia? It was a schizophrenic muddle that did not come togetherI get the feeling some of the relationship stories in here were fictionalized autobiography Big Deal They made for a terrible and terribly annoying story If this character was somehow based himself then all I can say he he makes a terrible character that I wanted to run over with a carMysteries of Pittsburgh? More like the Mysteries of Why Chabon Wrote this Self Indulgent Waste of Time It's just a bad book​


  5. says:

    I like tons of other goodreaders wish we didn't have to give a book an entire star so really I rate this at a three and a half than a fourIn any event I know that I liked this book I'm just not sure how much I liked it or why I liked it I mean if a book holds your attention to the point where you can finish it uickly and are interested in picking it up everyday does that by itself make it a great book? Or a really good book? Because this book was that for me Then again some really shitty Lifetime movies have been that for me too Depends on my mood Some of the stuff in this book bugged me though Like for example how one of the main characters is a girl named Phlox Really? Seriously? Phlox from Pittsburgh? Then the main character Arthur Bechstein is annoyingly indecisive cries often and for no apparent reason and is one of those people who is into something because all his friends are I think spineless is the word I'm looking for here Despite all that I still liked him He's a nice guy The story itself is nothing groundbreaking Young man who cant relate to his father comes of age type shit Only Chabon has mixed it up a bit by creating a main character who can't decide which one of his lovers the guy or the girl is true love and which one is lust Also there's a back story involving the main character's father a Jewish Mob Boss and his thug life homey who uses him Arthur for his underworld connectionsWhat it all comes down to for me I guess is that whether or not a story is derivative or whether or not its been told before which you know most have doesn't matter if it's well executed And that's where I'm confused On the one hand I really enjoyed reading the book and found myself invested in the characters and absorbed by the story but on the other hand there were plenty of times where I was really turned off by it and thought This is total bullshit Why is this here?Ugh I hate how I hated Arthur's indecisiveness and now I can't even decide how I feel about this book What Bullshi PS This movie seems very little like the book I just read And I can't believe I didn't realize for nearly the entire time I was reading this book that a there was a movie made about it and b It's the movie Sienna Miller was filming when she referred to Pittsburgh Shitsburgh? So that's kinda coolEdit OK I'm knocking it down to just three stars I just wasn't comfortable with the four that were up there


  6. says:

    Michael Chabon can write one hell of a novel This one is his first but has so much poise and wisdom And it has the added bonus of being immensely readable and not bogged down with super obscure words like some of his work I gobbled it up


  7. says:

    I wanted to like this than I did Perhaps it is because I started reading this as the Covid 19 ramped up but I had a really hard time with the narrative It just didn't propel me very hard Maybe I'll comeback someday and re evaluate it but I've loved several Chabon novels A LOT But few books have made me feel worse about not liking them I feel a bit guilty and ungenerous but I still just can't say I loved it


  8. says:

    I've read this book three times I'm trying to decide exactly what it is that I love so much about it Michael Chabon's writing style makes me long for such skill I get an ache in my stomach reading his works and loving them so much and wishing his words could come from me The characters in this book aren't wonderful people but they are wonderfully real Art's lack of self confidence especially speaks to me When Art falls in love with Arthur I fell in love with Arthur right along with him I love that this book takes place over one summer just like Gatsby which is its obvious inspiration I love how 1980's the book felt I was 3 13 years old in the 80's so I have nothing but faint memories and old John Hughes movies to remind me of that time period Mysteries of Pittsburgh almost feels like a period piece reading it now and I mean that in the BEST possible way I love the Pittsburgh references and Chabon's obvious attachment to that city as my husband is from Pittsburgh and we love to visit once a year It's hard to explainI just get an emotional charge from even thinking about this book I know this review wasn't that well written But my love of this book makes my thoughts all jumbled and it's the only way I could get it down


  9. says:

    Video reviewIt's a book about well off youths in the prime of their lives having aimless fun and abundant random sex What's there not to hate?Recommended if summer is your favorite season or you're interested in witnessing the budding of Chabon's flowery prose


  10. says:

    Now what a masterful writer is this Very precise and compelling with beautiful convincing descriptions When I came across the following lines I had to stop reading flabbergasted by what must be the best paragraph I read in yearsBefore she committed suicide when he was seventeen Cleveland Arning's mother a laughing woman taught her son to joke and to ridicule His father tall thin cut his beard in a goatee and wore great red sideburns that ran up his otherwise bald temples His name was also Cleveland and although he did indeed have his own grim notions of what made a joke he laughed only rarely generally in the privacy of his own study In the kitchen Cleveland and his mother would listen to the inexplicable sound of his father's laughter coming through the oaken door and whatever story Cleveland had been telling to make her laugh would die on his lips They would chew in silence clatter the dishes into the sink and go to their rooms Cleveland senior was a psychiatristA complete novel in a few lines onlyThe story itself is moving complicated as a result of the ambiguity of Art's feelings about his life and the world of his father as well as about his sexual orientation A rich debutAfterthought what makes Chabon's writing so special is that his characters become so real that you would not be surprised to encounter them in real life In fact you want to encounter them because they have become your friends


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