Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

After reading this book, I think T.C. Boyle has passed Michael Chabon as my favorite writer. The Yiddish Policemen's Union was a typical well-written Chabon book. But it was slow, the story was completely unsatisfying, there was a ton of stuff that could have been edited out without influencing the story and it was just too Jewish.

I'm writing this review out of order since I mentioned in my Outwitting History review that this would be my next review. My next review was actually a book I started after I started this one and could not put down. I would have loved if this book was as captivating.

The story is about Meyer Landsman, a down on his luck policemen in the Jewish town of Sitka, Alaska. In the novel Sitka is sort of an independent part of Alaska but the United States is looking to reclaim the town and evict the Jews. Landsman, divorced and an alcoholic, lives in a flea bag hotel. A murder takes place which leads him down a road involving chess, conspiracy theories, the return of the Messiah, discoveries about the death of his sister and a secret of his uncle, a reuniting with his ex-wife after she becomes his boss, a sort of Jewish mafia, and goodness knows what else. It's just a lot of stuff and there's not a whole lot to care about. Even if you're into whodunits, I think this fails miserably on that front. The "bad guy" is more of an idea than an individual. Landsman is sort of interesting but not a guy who you're rooting for.

The book is extremely heavy on Judaism. Nothing wrong with that except for my not having a great appreciation of the trials and tribulations of the Jews over the years. It's an important aspect of the book and maybe if you're Jewish, you can appreciate this book more than I. I just couldn't get into it. Loved Chabon's writing as always but it was overblown at times. What I mean is, you can create a picture of a tree without having to detail every leaf. There's better books that Chabon has written and I just can't recommend someone choosing this one.

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