December 16, 2004

GIFTS FOR READERS: Michael Chabon's The Final Solution

Michael Chabon, whom I think is the best writer of his generation, has a new book just in time for Christmas. The Final Solution is a brief, deceptively charming romp in which the aged Sherlock Holmes comes out of retirement to solve one last crime.

In 1944, Holmes - referred to as the old man - has long since retired to the pastoral English countryside where he attends to his beekeeping (which appeals to his sense of order). When a Jewish refugee boy's pet parrot is stolen, Holmes senses something darker at work, & agrees to solve the mystery.

Since it's 1944, only the reader can guess at what's induced the boy's muteness. The parrot has a remarkable talent, reciting strings of numbers whose significance interests certain parties. Are they German codes? Or something too awful to imagine?

The arthritic Holmes has a grand time leading a glum young constable around & astonishing him with his still-awesome powers of deduction. And Chabon shows off his mastery by writing an entire chapter from the point of view of Bruno the parrot! He also shows that it's possible to write a story about a subject without ever referring to it.

Also just out: McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, edited by Chabon. 2nd in series of retro-pulp tales, sparked by Chabon's disenchantment with dreary postmodern stories in which nothing happens.

For kids: Chabon's Summerland, which shows what a real writer can do when he sinks his teeth into YA fantasy. See also CSM article on Chabon's career

Posted by at December 16, 2004 09:53 AM | TrackBack

Jeff- wonderful ideas and links. I am going to investigate. :::Sigh::: I love good children's literature and so do my children.

Posted by: Rae at December 16, 2004 08:27 PM

I am trying to contact Michael Chabon to invite hime to speak in our community. Do you have an e-mail or snail mail address?

Posted by: suzanne Waller at January 5, 2005 08:42 PM
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