This is a very good book but not quite as good as either of my Chabon favorites, Kavalier and Clay or The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. This may be third favorite – (lol) –
Overall the novel feels like two separate stories – the first and maybe a kind of framing device (large frame!) , is the story of a very smart and tough (in many ways) old Jewish man who is dying as told by his grandson (Michael Chabon). The other story, scattered throughout the first half and then nestled in, is the focus story of grandpa’s adventures in Nazi-land with the V2 rocket and Wernher von Braun. The two stories come together at some point after the war but the tale is not told in chronological order. (The war part is an obvious homage to Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.) I really didn’t care much for the war part (as usual) although I got through it. The rest was great.
Chabon writes very, very nicely using an intelligent vocabulary in creatively structured sentences and without a bit of cliche. Drop dead funny in places.
by Michael Chabon
2017 / 430 pages
read by George Newburn 14h 46m
rating 8.25 – contemporary fiction
(read and listened)
The frame story is told like a memoir told by one “Michael Chabon.” It tells of Michale’s mother’s father growing up, finding his vocation, going to war and marrying Grandma who brought along her daughter – Michael’s mother. Now Michael is a grown man and Grandpa is dying at his mother’s house. During their chat sessions Grandpa asks Michael to write his story down in a way that makes sense. It almost does – but there might be some magical realism involved. Michael is a kid for much of the story.
The structure is not linear but rather like remembered segments which are rifled through by the teller/rememberer. It works for some reason but I’d be hard pressed to figure out why. I think it must be the charming and delightfully inventive characters.
From Michiko Kakutani in the NY Times: (pay wall)
“Although “Moonglow” grows overly discursive at times, it is never less than compelling when it sticks to the tale of Mike’s grandparents — these damaged survivors of World War II who bequeath to their family a legacy of endurance, and an understanding of the magic powers of storytelling to provide both solace and transcendence”.