I managed to finish Michael Chabon's "Yiddish Policemen's Union" and it was truly one of the best books I've read -- ever. I've never read anything by Chabon before, though he's famous for a variety of his other books, including "Wonderboys." I'm considering dabbling in other Chabon books, but for now, I'm going to delay myself.
For those not familiar with Chabon, you're really missing out. I'm not going to divulge any details or spoilers about the book, but the idea of a homeland in Alaska for the Jews is completely crazily awesome and no doubt arises from the crazy idea of Hitler and his posse that moving the Jews to the Canary Islands or Madagascar (which plays a part in the book) would be a stellar idea. I truly had no idea that the book was going to end up where it did, but let me tell you, I was shocked and impressed. It is a very, very smartly written book. Plenty of Jewish history, facts, myths and legends in this fictional masterpiece.
But perhaps the best part of the book was the author's incredibly vivid way of expressing a simple thing. His "the teacup of her ear" is just one that caught me. What imagery, nu? Even better? "The black cake of the kid's hat is already dusted with a quarter inch of frosting. Zimbalist gives him the attention you give a tree in a pot" (pg 107). I mean, wow. WOW. Those are the kind of lines and imagery and word play that I *dream* of when sitting down for a poem. The black cake of his hat ... dusted with a quarter inch of frosting. Amid the snow, that image is beautiful.
I have to wonder how the Lubavitch feel about this book. It definitely paints the uber-religious community as laden with underground mob-like activities, not to mention a front of piety that is no more legitimate than a Lance Bass vouching as a straight man. The idea that the devoutly religious would do the things that this book suggests, merely for that which the book expresses, is shocking and probably pretty incensing for the movement.
Either way, this is an ultimately amazing book that is worth your time. At a little over 400 pages, it's probably one of the fastest reads I've experienced. My (non)black hat is off to you, Michael Chabon. Your smartly written book had me hooked, and I only hope the rest of your books are just as brilliant.