First Impressions-Chapters 1-6

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Aug 6, 2007, 1:05:17 PM8/6/07
to Readers Anonymous
Obviously, I'm still not very far in the book.

The phrase "a strange time to be a Jew" or something like that, has
appeared at least three times so far. The first two times, I wondered
if this was supposed to be dry. I've decided that he's going for
understatement, but it's taken a while for the voice to establish
itself. Oh, I haven't read Chabon before, so that may be why.

The backstory is quite interestingly told. I'm impressed with the sort
of detachment of it. It's obviously horrifying and life-altering, yet
told as status quo the whole way through.

I'm slowly accumulating the surreal environment this all adds up to.
And I'm enjoying some of the well-crafted phrases. There are some
really packed ones, like page 15, "It was not that he couldn't live
with the guilt. He just couldn't live with it and Bina, too." An
entire novel is packed in that phrase, and I appreciate that.

Other thoughts?

Aug 9, 2007, 1:23:56 PM8/9/07
to Readers Anonymous
I'm absolutely loving this book too. Sayings like "a strange time to
be a Jew" (or a strange time to be a chicken), I believe, fall into
sayings of the Jewish or at least Yiddish community. In a matter of
speaking (typing, whatever) it would be interesting to compare the
likes of this book to Judaism to, say, Dubliners to the Irish Catholic
community. Still, I am finding the book to be very engaging.

The writing style is also of interest in this book. I know that he
was going for a hard boiled detective stylization and I am really
loving the short, choppy sentences. As a matter of interest, as well,
the narration of the book is interesting. The narrator, for all of
their faults appears to be either omniscient and not telling us
everything or else just as confused as the rest of us and waiting for
it all to play out. The immediacy of a story in the present tense
also adds to this.

Aug 9, 2007, 1:39:09 PM8/9/07
to Readers Anonymous
Ooops, one more thing... Betsy if you need any Chabon let me know, I
celebrate his entire catalog....

Favorite line so far (page 11)

"Just to spite himself, because spiting himself, spiting others,
spiting the world is the pastime and only patrimony of Landsman and
his people."

It almost makes me want to join the Jewish faith...

Aug 10, 2007, 1:58:13 PM8/10/07
to Readers Anonymous
i dont have the book on my person at the moment, but i love both of
those lines! i have more that i just dawdled over. i havent done that
in months (since i read Rushdie).

this may sound odd, but i'm a huge Chabon fan, and i've only heard one
of his short stories. i just fell in love with him when he talked at
the U of MN a few years back, and i pay attention to his commentaries
when he writes them. he's got a knack for dry, sophisticated wit and a
very childlike sense of adventure. it's a perfect combo... that and
i'm a fan of 40's noir... :o)

so i just looked at a map to find the town they are in. i am also
compiling a list of things to look up on wiki. mostly about the jewish
faith, yiddish definitions and of course - about the migration of the
jews to alaska. did anyone else even know about this??

i will say, it's a bit difficult to get through b/c of the yiddish. at
first i didnt realize that they were mostly speaking in yiddish -
which makes perfect sense. all of their sentences are a bit contrived.
but this is b/c they are phrases, not just thoughts. does anyone
disagree?? other insights?


Aug 15, 2007, 11:38:32 AM8/15/07
to Readers Anonymous
Hmmm, I am not sure what I am feeling yet. I know that a lot is the
writing style which hasn't entirely pulled me in (to be fair I just
read two first person novels). I do like the fact that it appears to
be alternate history. (The Jews didn't move to Sitka, and Sitka is
not a town of 3.2 million either. And the Israeli state didn't
collapse in 1948, and 6 million died in the holocaust - not 2
million). This does give it kind of a 'Science Fiction' flare which I
am enjoying.

I think part of the reason I am not liking the novel yet is because I
don't like the main character. Perhaps he reminds me of myself in too
many ways, or perhaps he reminds me of my alcoholic family... I'm not
sure, but I don't identify and I think he's kind of an emotional

I do like the phrasing, it's wonderful. And I know he is trying to
create a surreal environment - hence the way it's written. I do have
to chuckle at comments like 'it's a bad time to be a chicken'; and it
does beg the question why couldn't the chicken forsee his own end (in
soup) - is this foreshadowing, can each of us not see our own story
ending even though we may see the larger picture.

I will keep pushing on and hopefully catch up with some of you by the
end of the book!

Aug 15, 2007, 1:16:24 PM8/15/07
to Readers Anonymous
Stick with it 10... it's a Chabon book there is always redemption...
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