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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh [Paperback]

Michael Chabon
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 May 1988 --  

Book Description

1 May 1988
Art Bechstein steps out of the library into the summer of his graduation year. Not yet ready for respectability, he falls in with the exotic, charming Arthur Lecomte, and ricochets between a homosexual relationship and an intense affair with a strange and beautiful girl called Phlox. Before long, the world of his new friends and the underworld of his father must collide, with consequences that Art cannot control.

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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh + The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 2 edition (1 May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340424354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340424353
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 772,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seven novels - including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union - two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.

Product Description


A strikingly accomplished debut (Sunday Times)

His style has an enviable suppleness and fluency which offers the perfect vehicle for the moral feints and shifts of the cool crowd he portrays (TLS)

Hard as it is to write about youth when you're young, Chabon has done it brilliantly (Cosmopolitan)

Mingles wit, sex and fine writing (Sunday Telegraph)

His control over his story, the wonderful use he makes of each description, of Pittsburgh itself, are often astonishing...a young writer with a tremendous skill (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

Michael Chabon's acclaimed coming of age tale, one of the most high-profile debuts of the 80s

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The awakening of Art 13 Dec 2006
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Art Bechstein, fresh out of college, notices an attractive young man in the library, no sooner is he outside the library than this attractive young man, the very appealing and flamboyant Arthur is standing beside him. In addition the attentions of Arthur, Art struggles with his uncertain feelings for Phlox, the strange girl who works in the library. So begins a summer of friendships, sex and parties, and a beautiful relationship that eventually dispels any doubts Art might have had about his sexuality. Add to that the hint of gangsters and the mysterious smoke from a factory; it all contributes to captivating read.

This is a thoroughly engrossing and interesting story, beautifully written and full of vitality, wit and humour.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely compelling 1 Dec 2007
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book was slow to grab my attention, but once it had I was then hooked. I read it in one sitting and was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it turned out to be. It's crammed with humour and dry wit but also has moments of great poignancy. The main character, Art, whose father is a big time gangster, gets caught up in a love triangle with his homosexual friend Arthur and a girl called Phlox. The story relates the summer that he spends trying to discover who he really is and what his true feelings are for his partners. Events reach a traumatic conclusion when his father hears about his gay relationship, and steps in to put an end to it. This is a beautifully written book, and one that I found strangely compelling.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By MrShev
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the tale of Art who, after finishing college, hangs around Pittsburg waiting for something to happen. Art is a bit of a trustfund baby but the source of his income is an embarrasment to him. But the life he starts to lead starts to become an embarrasment to his income...

This is a book that burns slowly but gradually builds and takes you in, along with Art, on a journey. I loved the way he develops new relationships and how he described the adulation for his new friends, his fears and his doubts. The relationships are so delicately drawn that it feels like reportage and I really liked that.

I gave it only four stars because there is a spark missing from this book. There are no sympathetic characters, the lazy days of summer - though well evoked - made me a bit lazy as a reader. I felt a little bit like Art in this book - continually waiting for something to happen, but when it did it was neither surprising nor exciting. I did enjoy the book, but I don't miss it and was glad to finish it.

I don't want to be too negative because it was a good book and it is worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, grand book 8 Dec 1997
By A Customer
I hate reading reviews of books that begin, "The greatest book I ever read, it changed my life!" And so I'm a little embarrassed to write that "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is, uh, the greatest book I ever read, and it changed my life. OK, maybe it didn't exactly change my life, but when I finished the last page and went for a walk, the world was a different place. It was a world of wonder, of possiblity, and I was glad to be a part of it. I'm a Pittsburgher, and a grad student at Pitt, so reading this magical story about neighborhoods I have walked through and bars where I have been shot down had a special resonance for me. The language of the novel is so rich, so beautiful, that I have read and re-read it several times. At times funny, at times tragic, at all times fascinating, it is just a magnificent book. The book is often described, for the most part accurately, as a gay coming-of-age story, and I must at this point confess that I am not gay, not even a little bit. But I still greatly enjoyed reading about the relationship of the two Arthurs, even as I hoped Art would reunite with his wonderfully bizarre Phlox. And I haven't even mentioned the force of nature named Cleveland, or Art's mobster father, or the myriad other delights of this wonderful book. Unlike so many other books written by twentysomethings, this book doesn't dwell on slacker angst or indulge in pointless diatribes about how crummy the world is. This is a book about love, about friendship, about family, and about how precious and tenuous they all are. Like I said, I'm from Pittsburgh, and I love my hometown. Pittsburgh is a bit provincial, it lacks the glamour and glitz of New York or Los Angeles. But Chabon shows that magic can happen anywhere, even in the Hillman Library at Pitt, and that the wonderful mysteries of life can be revealed in the humblest of places. Read this book, and just enjoy the journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When you're young 17 Aug 2009
I picked this up after seeing the trailer for the film adaption. In my copy, before you get to the story, there are a lot of reviews that praise the "expansive skill" of the 24 year-old writer, who's described in the publisher's blurb as having attended the University of Pittsburgh. So when the story turns out to be narrated by a young man who's just graduated from... the University of Pittsburgh, it's slightly difficult not to wonder whether it's a real-life confessional with all the names changed. If it was, there'd be a lot to talk about: a difficult relationship with a powerful father, alternating sexual congress with a girl and a boy, and a darkly attractive friend who's going off the rails, complete with a girlfriend who drags herself through the mud for him.

For the most part, the author handles these characters very well, giving them memorable, funny and interesting things to say. I was more impatient with their actions - particularly the narrator's swithering between his romantic interests, and the length of time it took for the friend to arrive at a destination which had been clearly telegraphed from the moment of his introduction. At the end, the narrator decides whether or not he'd loved his friends according to whether or not they'd changed him. Such a view expects a lot of effort on the part of his friends, but I've got an uncomfortable feeling that - as far as I recall - that's how you think about people when you're young.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read.
A Catcher in the Rye for Generation X.

Michael Chabon is funny and observant, he creates characters and lives that one cannot bear to leave alone. Read more
Published 11 months ago by John Vaughan
4.0 out of 5 stars A book as good as its cover
The cover attracted me, and the contents were at just as interesting.

The story starts slowly, there is a little mystery and no real action at the beginning, but a... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ransen Owen
4.0 out of 5 stars ...unhappy families may each be unhappy after their own fashion, but...
Michael Chabon's debut novel is also his thesis and was written when he was just 21 years old. It is an accomplished, funny, coming-of-age novel that tackles bi-sexuality, not... Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Eighties were interesting in the eighties
Chabon's style is excellent, the easy-going-way to describe characters and situations is unique. Anyway the story is too much eighties and kind of no more upsetting 30 years... Read more
Published on 12 April 2011 by Eduardo Avila
3.0 out of 5 stars Starter for just 3 out of 5; the best is yet to come...
I've only recently discovered Chabon, and this was only my second read after Kavalier & Clay. Given that it's his debut novel from '88, I can see how reviewers would have been... Read more
Published on 12 July 2007 by Apollo 11
4.0 out of 5 stars Lazy, hazy days of college
This is a great book for those of us caught up in the rat race of the working world. It takes us back to those days of college where the biggest problem in life was getting over a... Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2001 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars So where's the film?
If ever a book warranted a film version... This is a fntastic book; it gives off a kind of shimmering heat that the reader basks in - unfortunately for too short a time. Read more
Published on 25 Nov 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The most touching book I have ever opened
I found that this novel, upon reading, began to work its way into every aspect of my waking (and dreaming) mind. Read more
Published on 28 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, moving....hard to put down.
Having grown up in Pittsburgh is what initially prompted me to check out this oft recommended book. Though that aspect certainly adds a nostalgic charm to it, the book is quite... Read more
Published on 1 July 1999
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