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The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007)
by Michael Chabon
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Notă: nu am terminat cartea, ci am citit doar 100 pag din vreo 400 și ceva. Asta pentru că, în afară de crima din pag.1, în următoarele 100 nu s-a mai întâmplat absolut nimic, în afară de introducerea la nesfârșit de personaje neinteresante. Asta ar fi prima mare problemă și, deși am avut multă bunăvoință, nu m-am putut forța mai mult de atât.
A doua, uriașă, este stilul de scriere al lui Chabon, exagerat de încărcat și ridicol: autorul e ferm hotărât să folosească absolut toate adjectivele și adverbele din dicționar și să mai inventeze câteva, iar dacă în Guiness Book există un record pentru comparații și unul pentru comparații uluitor de proaste, Chabon le triplu-bate pe amândouă. Cîteva exemple: ”Blocurile-turn (...) îngrămădite în beznă ca niște prizonieri strânși laolaltă ca vitele, cu ajutorul unui furtun de mare putere” - wow, o comparație la comparație, când și una e prea mult în ziua de azi, nu mai suntem la 1800; ”ambii micuți dorm acolo, depozitați pe balcon ca niște schiuri nefolosite” - what?!; ”Brennan își ridică degetele albe, asemenea unor larve, și clipește din ochișorii de un albastru pal, ca al laptelui acrit” - clasa a 3a much?!. Oribil și de tot râsul, cel mai prost stil scriitoricesc citit de mine de ani de zile.
A treia: șabloanele, Dumnezeule! Chiar e obligatoriu ca noir-urile să fie identice? Personajul principal e un detectiv ratat (checked), bețiv (checked), divorțat (checked), care își plânge de milă (checked), scârbit de tot (checked) și se comportă cu sictir (checked), trăiește într-un hotel decrepit printre ratați rău-famați (checked) and so on. Come on!!!
A patra: carte nu prea are fapte, dar este o înșiruire infinită nu doar de comparații, ci și de detalii. Nenumărate, irelevante, obositoare.
A cincea: încărcătura prea mare de termeni idiș și de referințe la lumea evreiască: eu sunt pasionat de Israel, motiv din care le știu foarte bine istoria, cultura și nițel limba (ivrit, ce-i drept, nu idiș), dar tot mi s-au părut că îngreunează foarte tare lectura.
A șasea e doar personală: în afară de fundalul vag distopic, nu e deloc SF, ci o carte 100% polițistă. Iar mie nu-mi plac deloc romanele polițiste, mă plictisesc de moarte și fără să fie atât de prost scrise. Cartea ar fi trebuit scoasă de Paladin în colecția lor de noir, acolo îi este locul, nu în cea de SF.
Sincer, de mult nu m-a mai plictisit așa tare o carte, iar de enervat chiar de și mai mult.
A, și coperta e una dintre cele mai urâte de mulți ani, dar nu e vina Paladin, e coperta folosită la majoritatea edițiilor. Ce hâdoșenie infantilă!
Concluzie: o mare decepție, o așteptam de mult...
PS: am descoperit online cum se continuă povestea. Mă bucur că am abandonat la timp, urăsc Dan Brown-ismele.
A remarkable book; here are some remarks. Is this about a mystery, about love, or about chess? Not entirely clear but I enjoyed every page. Not to say that it was easy reading: each sentence is a workout to understand, not only the pervasive analogies but the language. Oh, yes, so much Yiddish with no pity for us goyim. I have not had so much brain exercise from a work of fiction in a long time.
The world and history around the Sitka District that Chabon creates is reminiscent of the book itself: slow to develop but intriguing and engaging when you take the time to really sift through it. While the main premise of "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is a murder mystery, it feels more like an exercise in world building, with a plot thrown in to keep you engaged. Chabon's alternate history diverges at 1940, and leaves us with a world wildly different from our own, while still being familiar. My issues with the book can be boiled down to: Michael Chabon can't help but get in his own way.
The book is enjoyable, but the pacing feels all wrong. Instead of developing a gripping plot right off the bat, Chabon spends the first quarter of the book in endless metaphor and simile describing everything and every interaction. While the writing is good, it gets to be so excessive that at times you forget what is actually happening in the moment because its been too long since he actually told you. By the time the plot really starts to come together enough to finally feel like an actual mystery book, you're about half way down. I found myself caring a lot more about the history of the Sitka District and the changes to world history, because for most of the book the murder mystery feels anecdotal.
But by the end, the plot does come together and the mystery feels satisfactory as a central plot. It speaks to modern politics, and the hopes and dream of both Zionists and Evangelicals. It touches on greed, nationalism, piety vs. zealotry, and finding one's place in a world that feels entirely hostile to your mere existence.
Chabon is a spectacular writer. He does a witty turn reinventing Yiddish for the modern Alaskan Jews - of course the lingua franca of Jews without an Israel - just a little of which I, with only faintly remembered childhood Yiddish, could grasp. A mobile phone is a shoyfer (perhaps because, like the ram's horn, it calls you), a gun is a sholem (a Yiddish version of a Peacemaker?). Chabon is a language magician, turning everything into something else just for the delight of playing tricks with words. He takes the wry, underbelly vision of the ordinary that the best of noir fiction offers and ratchets it up to the limit. Nothing is allowed to be itself; all people and events are observed as an echo of something else. Voices are like "an onion rolling in a bucket", or rusty forks falling. An approaching motorcycle is "a heavy wrench clanging against a cold cement floor. The flatulence of a burst balloon streaking across the living room and knocking over a lamp." Chabon's ornate prose makes Chandler's fruity observations of the world look quite plain. Nothing is described as just the way it is. Nothing is let be. He writes like a dream and has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.
For the most part, Chabon's writing serves the knotted mystery that is being unravelled, but there is eventually a point where it begins to weary the mind, where the elaborations of things get in the way of the things themselves and the narrative gets sucked under by style. The compulsory paragraph of Byzantine physical description whenever another character arrives on the scene starts to seem an irritating interlude; another over-reaching cadenza. Though it seems churlish to complain about such a vivid talent, a little less would have been enough already.
It’s obvious that the creation of this strange, vibrant, unreal world is Chabon’s idea of heaven. He seems happy here, almost giddy, high on the imaginative freedom that has always been the most cherished value in his fiction.
Some of the pleasures of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union are, actually, distinctly Dan Brown–ish. Mr. Chabon often ends chapters with cliffhangers that might be tiresome in the hands of a lesser writer (say, Dan Brown). Here, they’re over-the-top suspenseful, savory and delicious.
More important, Mr. Chabon has so thoroughly conjured the fictional world of Sitka — its history, culture, geography, its incestuous and byzantine political and sectarian divisions — that the reader comes to take its existence for granted. By the end of the book, we feel we know this chilly piece of northern real estate, where Yiddish is the language of choice, the same way we feel we have come to know Meyer Landsman — this “secular policeman” who has learned to sail “double-hulled against tragedy,” ever wary of “the hairline fissures, the little freaks of torque” that can topple a boat in the shallows.
This novel makes you think, but it is an ordeal to read. The problem: Chabon has mixed two very dark story lines that jar the reader. There is the real tragedy of Sitka's wandering Jews, and then there is the faux bleakness of the noir genre with its posturing attitude. The central character comes across as a Jewish Humphrey Bogart wannabe, not a three-dimensional character who can shoulder a 400-plus-page novel about exile, fanatics and longing.
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Wikipedia in English (3)
In a world in which Alaska, rather than Israel, has become the homeland for the Jews following World War II, Detective Meyer Landsman and his half-Tlingit partner Berko investigate the death of a heroin-addled chess prodigy.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.
I think I like it even more on reread, though I'm not sure it'll upset Kavalier and Clay as my favorite Chabon book. My yiddish vocabulary has grown, if only a little---I really appreciated all the plays and metaphors on "faygele," dancing lightly around the word itself but never saying it. I desperately want the dead man and Landsman's sister to survive; I have to remind myself again and again that their fates were known from the first pages, and I grieve them all over again.
I don't know how insightful and organized this review is going to be....
Finally finished this one off-- and I want to read it again! Sometimes the writing was a little pretentious (like the lists of objects, which you can tell Chabon likes to do), but it was always a great read. I loved the Yiddish words and invented slang; Sitka came alive for me, in its tired, ramshackle, and thoroughly Jewish way. Often, I was reading more for Sitka than the plot or any of the other characters.
The plot towards the end began to remind me of Neal Stephenson in its conspiracy-filled unlikeliness, but it was still interesting. ( )