I was all set to write a succinct, mostly-favorable take on Michael Chabon’s first novel. Then I made the mistake of remembering just now that this film was adapted into a film. It was the filming process that prompted Sienna Miller to give the ‘Burgh a different nickname.

But here’s the thing: I’m not seeing any reference to the character of Arthur Lacomte anywhere in the film synopsies. Which is absolutely absurd. ABSURD. Lacomte is pivotol to the work! You can’t have this story without that man! He’s a hell of a character!

Just needed to get that out. Anyway. The novel.

The impetus for my picking out The Mysteries of Pittsburgh was Wonder Boys, Chabon’s second novel. I’d originally seen the film adaptation and enjoyed it, but when I picked up the novel, I fell in love in the manner that I think many people who either are or (in my case) have aspirations of writing a novel enjoy the work.

You can tell reading Pittsburgh that Chabon is finding his voice. He wrote it young, after all. But there are many trademark Chabon things that jump out: the detail that allows a reader to really envision the characters; the tenuous father-son relationships; the homoeroticism; the way Lacomte really could, in a sort of way, grow up to become Terry Crabtree of the later novel and the voice.

It’s a good read in a more compact frame than Chabon’s later work. While I still prefer Wonder Boys to this, I’m certainly enjoyed the reading process.

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