Tag: Alaska

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Posted September 4, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael ChabonTitle: The Yiddish Policemen's Union (Goodreads)
Author: Michael Chabon
Published: Harper Collins, 2007
Pages: 414
Genres: Crime, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Many people seem to enjoy Michael Chabon’s books so I was pleased when I finally had a reason to read The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. In the dark Alaskan winter in the city of Sitka, Detective Meyer Landsman’s ex-wife has just become his boss and has handing him a huge stack of old cold cases that she wants him to solve. While Landsman life may feel like it’s already hit rock bottom, he’s only just discovering the mess that he’s in; a mess that will lead to a conspiracy.

This alternative version of Sitka, Alaska in this book is a Yiddish-speaking metropolis. That was the whole basis of this book; Michael Chabon’s idea came from a book he found called ‘Say It in Yiddish’ which had sayings that he would never have a chance to use because Yiddish isn’t the primary language of any country. While toying with the idea of a hypothetical Yiddish-speaking country this book was born. The idea was Israel lost the 1948 war; the Jews established a Jewish state in Alaska.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is an interesting blend of Michael Chabon’s heritage with a love of old mystery novels. Chabon has called it a homage to Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald and Isaac Babel. But while the noir stylings of this book are good this book also has a satirical nature about it, with a comic look at the Yiddish language and Jewish culture. Michael Chabon originally published an essay called Guidebook to a Land of Ghosts; which he discussed some thoughts he had of the travel book Say It in Yiddish, this essay was responded with a spiteful reaction from a Jewish community. This vitriolic response only spurred Chabon on and eventually he developed the idea of this book.

While there was some parts of the book that felt like it dragged on, over all the balance between the comical and the noir seemed to work. There are some great line coming from thing book; a highlight for me was “He feels like he suffers from tinnitus of the soul.” I was really surprised with just how well the dark and gritty mystery mixed with Chabon’s satirical style. I liked the whole concept of a Jewish noir novel; it was a refreshing take on a genre that I love. Well worth checking out this alternate history novel as it is one of the best I’ve read. I hear that the Coen Brothers are looking at adapting this book into a movie; if anyone could do this book justice as a movie, it would definitely be them. I’d be interested to see if this movie ever gets made and how it translates onto the screen.

7 Deadly Sins of Reading

Posted June 23, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Random / 0 Comments

So blog tagging is annoying and I don’t normally participate in them, but I saw this post from Jae over at Book Nympho where she just pretty much told everyone to participate. I thought this would be a nice follow up to my confession of a reader post, so I’m going to join in. I’d like to encourage others to participate too as I’d be interested in reading their answers.

7 Deadly Sins of Reading

GREED: What is your most inexpensive book?
Obviously that would be a free book, but do ARC’s count? My latest ARC received would be The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. But if you aren’t talk about advance reader copies of books the last free book I received was the new 24hr book Willow Pattern, which I’ve read but not planning to review on my blog so I might as well talk about it a little here.  I thought it was an interesting social experiment but was it great literature? No, it was not. It’s amazing that a book can be written, edited and published in just 24 hours. It is interesting how the nine authors worked together but this really isn’t one voice and the story didn’t really flow well from author to author.

WRATH: What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?
I don’t think I really have a love/hate relationship with any author. Probably the closest would be my feelings towards China Miéville; I love what he does for literature but I keep hoping he will write another book that I will like. I love The City & The City but haven’t read anything else of his that even compares.

GLUTTONY: What book have you deliciously devoured over and over with no shame whatsoever?
That’s easy, I have a gluttonous feeling towards Frankenstein and most of my readers know this. I own multiple copies of this book and have already shared my thoughts on re-reading recently.

SLOTH: What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?
I’ve always wanted to read Finnegans Wake by James Joyce because that will make me look cool, right? I think it sounds like a weird and interesting book but I’m too lazy to put the time and effort into reading it, I think that’s why many people haven’t read it. I also want to read Ulysses  but that isn’t really a priority.

PRIDE: What book do you most talk about in order to sound like a very intellectual reader?
I don’t do that; let’s talk Russian writers shall we? I really think Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina was quite brilliant but I do prefer the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Notes from  Underground may be a great starting point for Dostoyevsky but you really should read Crime and Punishment. Ok maybe I do, do that.

LUST: What attributes do you find most attractive in male or female characters?
I love the smart, witty characters in books. Maybe that is slightly nerdy of me but I think they are just the most interesting characters to read. I also love the inner torment of a character but that is not really an attractive feature. But ultimate fictional crush would be Alaska, she was so cool and I was so heart broken when she died.

ENVY: What books would you most like to receive as a gift?
I do need more copies of Frankenstein; I would love some nice leather-bound, cloth bound or maybe a first edition of this book. They would look so pretty on my book shelf.

So there we have it, more confessions. I would love for people to either do a post similar and link me it or let me know what their reading sins are in the comments.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Posted May 11, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

“How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” — Simón Bolívar

Looking for Alaska by John GreenTitle: Looking For Alaska (Goodreads)
Author: John Green
Published: Puffin, 2005
Pages: 221
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I don’t think I’ve ever started a review with a quote, but these famous last words really are relevant to this book. Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles; a kid obsessed with memorising famous last words. He is leaving a school where he has no friends to go to a boarding school. The reason; well according to Miles it is because of François Rabelais’ famous last words “I go to seek a Great Perhaps”. At this new school Miles experiences a lot of firsts, first friends, first cigarette, first kiss, first love and first heartbreak.

Alaska is the beautiful girl that Miles has a crush on and I can see why; she is a great character. She is an outspoken book nerd who, while she can get rather emotional, is the kind of female friend every high school boy dreams of having; obsessed with sex, flirting and teasing but ultimately one of the guys. But the thing I liked about Miles and Alaska (as well as the other characters) is their emotions and the way they act seem so familiar. It is easy to connect and understand what they are going through. It is hard to get the emotions right, and make them feel real; I know most YA books miss this completely but John Green makes it look so easy.

I really connected with Looking For Alaska, and I could probably talk about the awkwardness of the characters (including the awkward blow job), the views on religion and philosophy and even the pranks and mischief they get up to; but I will leave that for the readers to discover. I think the main thing I took away from this book is the fact that John Green wrote a book exactly like the stories I’ve attempted to write when I was in high school. The feeling of loneliness, being a geek, having a crush; Green captured this perfectly and he showed me how an expert writes a YA book about love and lost. I know I’ve been on a bit of a John Green kick lately, I’ve even been watching his YouTube channel constantly but I don’t think this will stop anytime soon, I can’t wait to read another one of his books.