The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon)

[The Yiddish Policemen's Union (Michael Chabon)]I don’t know what it was about the AC Transit, but I loved reading on that bus. Twenty minutes, twice a day, it just worked. CTA should have been even better with the hour commute twice each day. Whether it was the excessive noise or the multiple transfers I could never regain that rhythm. Instead CTA became the haven of the podcast. Now commuting primarily by car, reading isn’t even an option, replaced by podcasts and the phone and A’s baseball. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was my first attempt at getting back into literature, via the auto friendly audiobook. Not War and Peace I admit, but let’s see if I can test the waters with Michael Chabon. I was shocked at how much my mind wandered for the first several chapters in a way that doesn’t happen when listening to hour long podcasts, but does happen with the book in my hands. Does my brain just know it’s a book and react by wandering? I guess it’s only a data set of one, so it’s best to not draw any substantial conclusions. After a few chapters, I was a more captivated audience. Maybe that just corresponded with the plot accelerating. Or maybe I became more interested in the protagonist Landsman than the alternate history premise that an Alaskan island served as the de facto Jewish state after the failure of Israel. In any case, YPU stands right up with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as Chabon’s best. YPU is much more even start to finish, where, after starting very strong, Kav & Clay becomes depressing and weird in the second half of the novel. There is sort of a twist mid-way through YPU, but it more alters Landsman’s motivation than the story arc. At the conclusion, there are big unanswered questions, but Chabon manages to close it down without tacking on an extra 200 pages to resolve them.

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