Picks and Pans Review: A Model World and Other Stories
by Michael Chabon
The buoyancy and wit that marked Chabon's debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, is evident from the first sentence in this short story collection: "On the morning of his cousin's wedding Ira performed his toilet, as he always did, with patience, hope, and a ruthless punctilio."
That story, "S Angel," concerns a doomed flirtation at the wedding reception. Ira is a specialist in precarious relationships, like most of Chabon's protagonists. The title character in "Blumenthal on the Air," for instance, is a radio DJ who marries an Iranian woman so she can gain citizenship, then complains when their arrangement doesn't lead to romance.
Some entries, such as "Ocean Avenue" and a cycle of coming-of-age stories that make up the end of the book, are cluttered with detail and mawkish emotion. But Chabon's observations are always a delight. "His mother had a Disney whistle," he writes in "The Little Knife," "melodious and full, like a Scotsman's as he walks across a meadow in a brilliant kilt."
Endearing too are the sweet, sensitive guys who people Chabon's writing. They're emotional hemophiliacs, heartbreaks just waiting to happen. (Morrow, $18.95)
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