Book of the Week: Moonglow – Michael Chabon

Anyone who recalls the heady, delicious mix of history, pop culture, Jewish mysticism and family love that was the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay will cheer this latest from Chabon. He’s back in somewhat the same territory—post WWII America and the immigrant Jews who helped create it. But this is a much more personal story. Chabon is at his very best in this hybrid of memoir and fiction. Moonglow tells the story of “Mike’s” maternal grandparents from WWII through his grandfather’s final days. It’s a tour de force exploration of a favorite Chabon theme—the elusive relationship between memory and truth.

If you haven’t read Chabon yet you’re in for a magical experience. In fact, don’t wait for Moonglow–go read Kavalier & Clay this week. It’ll make you happy to have Moonglow to look forward to.

Expect publicity for this everywhere, including a rave review by A.O. Scott on the front page of the NYTBR. Michiko Kakutani agrees in the daily editionNew York Magazine is doing a feature; Buzzfeed has the first serial; it will be a People pick and featured on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” Other national review coverage includes, NPR’s “Fresh Air”, EW, USA Today, US Weekly, O Magazine, WSJ, LA Times, Washington Post and The Forward.

Finally, it’s the #1 Indie Next pick for December, a LibraryReads pick, and has been shortlisted for the American Library Association/Andrew Carnegie Award.

Moonglow is an exuberant meld of fiction and family history…its imagery sparkling on each page…it’s the caliber of [Chabon’s] writing—evocative sentences and indelible metaphors—that gives the novel its luster.”
— O, the Oprah Magazine

Chabon’s charming and elegantly structured novel is presented as a memoir by a narrator named Mike who shares several autobiographical details with Chabon….His grandfather—whose deathbed reminisces serve as the novel’s main narrative engine—is a WWII veteran with an anger streak (the stint he does in prison after a workplace assault is one of the novel’s finest sections) and a fascination with V-2 rockets, astronomy, space travel, and all things celestial or skyward. Mike’s grandmother, born in France, is alluring but unstable, ‘a source of fire, madness, and poetry’ whose personal history overlaps in unclear ways with the Holocaust, and whose fits of depression and hallucination result in her institutionalization (also one of the novel’s finest sections)….What seduces the reader is Chabon’s language, which reinvents the world, joyously, on almost every page”
Publishers Weekly

“His most beautifully realized novel to date…. A masterful and resounding novel of the dark and blazing forces that forged our tumultuous, confounding, and precious world.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Luminous…. The story builds to core revelations of wartime horror and postwar heartbreak as powerful as they come.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“A feeling of wonder pervades this captivating novelization of the mysterious lives of the author’s grandfather and grandmother.  This thrilling, poignant, and magical book left me feeling like I do when I leave the theater after a great movie–I couldn’t talk, I just had to readjust to the world.”
— Tim Benz, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Crestview Hills, KY

Prepare to be amazed! I’ve loved Michael Chabon’s writing since Mysteries of Pittsburgh, particularly his facility for creating living, breathing characters with fully human quirks and flaws, and Moonglow is his best novel yet. Written in the form of a family history, as dictated to a grandson by a dying Jewish grandfather on Dilaudid, it stretches from the grandfather’s Depression-era boyhood, through World War II and the space race, and on to the grandson’s life in the present day. Chabon is brilliant at showing us the resilience of the human spirit as his characters transcend seemingly impossible circumstances, balancing tragedy with humor, destruction with love, death with life. Moonglow is a true masterpiece.”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, MI

“Michael Chabon’s Moonglow defies gravity. His warmest offering since The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the novel is a story of family and history, of amateur rocketry and the escape velocity necessary to escape the gravity of guilt. The prose is welcoming and familiar, even as it dazzles with its clarity. I read the entire novel with that heart-in-your-throat ache, the surest sign that I’m reading something by America’s premier prose stylist, Michael Chabon.”
— Jesse Davis, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN

Moonglow (9780062225559) by Michael Chabon. $28.99 hardcover. 11/22/16 one day laydown.

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