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A Model World


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About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Moonglow and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, among many others. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.


This collection of 11 stories by the author of the well-received Mysteries of Pittsburgh (Morrow, 1988) should help cement Chabon's status as one of the best of America's young fiction writers. Each of the stories concerns an individual's adaptation to a changed relationship, be it with wife (or ex-wife), friend, lover, or parent. Particularly evocative are the five final stories which fall under the rubric ``The Lost World.'' They deal with a boy's response to his parents' divorce and their subsequent attempts to establish new partnerships. Chabon writes with intelligence, humor, and an obvious love of language. In the first story's marvelous opening paragraph, the protagonist goes from performing his toilet ``with patience, hope, and a ruthless punctilic'' to sitting in the back at his cousin's wedding ``awash in a nostalgic tedium . . . wishing for irretrievable things.'' It leaves one hoping that, like Dr. Shapiro in ``More Than Human,'' Chabon never surrenders his love for ``the soothing foolishness of words.'' If he keeps developing, he will become a major force in American fiction. Essential for all public and academic libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/90.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.

An exceptional collection of short stories follows Chabon's well received debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh . These subtly ironic tales have a brevity and clarity that allows Chabon's bittersweet observations to hit home. Understatement is Chabon's talent; using words economically, he deftly creates believable situations made remarkable by underlying twists of motivation and behavior. His vivid characters share the need to feel accepted and loved by others. In ``S Angel'' Ira, a drama student at UCLA, attends his favorite cousin Sheila's wedding and falls for a party guest named Carmen--an abrasive, unstable woman who is unresponsive to his flirtations. It's as much a surprise to the reader as to Ira when he realizes his true affections for Sheila. The unpredictability of love surfaces again in the dryly witty ``Ocean Avenue,'' in which Bobby Lazar, an architect in Laguna Beach, runs into his ex-lover, Suzette, a painfully thin exercise fanatic, and finds he can't suppress his indefinable feelings for her, despite the chaos they bring to each other's lives. Chabon's characters manage to find joy amidst disappointment, and thus a sense of purpose. (Apr.)

YA-- Originally published in The New Yorker and other magazines, these short stories are delightful in their portrayal of characters, the light irony of the situations, and the flow of the sentences. Chabon deftly paints humorously odd people floundering for fulfillment. In the first part, readers glide into a kaleidoscope of worlds--a Jewish wedding in Los Angeles; Laguna Beach with an estranged couple; Paris with an American do-gooder; Pittsburgh with a down-and-out baseball catcher, a disc jockey, and a blundering toy maker; and finally duplicity in academe. Chabon's stories will captivate creative writing students, students of literature, and casual readers alike. --Susan Callahan, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

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