Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

The story is a murder mystery that is, in truth rather light on both, but extraordinarily dense with bravado and craftsmanship.  There's a little boy with a few horrible communication deficiencies and parrot that speaks, among other things, a string of numbers erratically in German.  

No, seriously, that's the whole plot.
We, of course, meet other characters, an elderly police detective, a hot-headed younger son, a murderer with a motive, and a bee keeper, but the biggest star here is the author.  Chabon strings together the most meaningful and dense collection of words you will find in modern literature.  His descriptions are slightly obsessive, perhaps even manic, but primarily gorgeous and leave a firm imprint on the mind; his colorful use of language manages to be both whimsically and profound at the same time.  The narrative is simplistic and straightforward but you read Chabon's work to understand how something trite can be made beautiful in hands of one to today's chic literary behemoths.  
The murder is solved; the parrot is returned; a little boy is made happy; and the innocent are exonerated--if not exiled--all in wonderful groupings of words that no one else could have assembled.  Yet, I can't help but feeling like this book wasn't what it was supposed to be: chapter one, all nine pages of it, was so intent on a boy who is decidedly 'not right' and a parrot.  Given Chabon's attention to this duo and his powers as a writer, I really wanted to read a story about this boy and his parrot--by the end of chapter one, I was more than a little bit in love with this boy and his parrot.  That story is not included in The Final Solution: A Story of Detection and that's okay.  To the benifit of us all, Chabon's genius goes where it will and not where I would have it go: I'm more than content to follow a few steps behind in awe.    


Marion said...

I loved this! Your post, I mean. I haven't read the book yet.

Chad Hull said...

Thanks Marion. I'm not sure what grabbed you about my shortest commentary ever, but I'm glad it work for you! Honestly, I think I liked the idea of this book better than the actual book, but--that said--it's Michael Chabon; it's hard not to like his stuff.