I just finished Michael Chabon's latest novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Chabon's newest story takes place in the fictional land of Sitka, an Alaskan state created as a temporary homeland for Jewish people after Israel lost the war of 1948. Meyer Landsman is the protagonist, a embattled homicide detective who is currently residing towards the bottom of a downward spiral caused by a failed marriage, alcoholism, and the upcoming "reversion," which will place the District of Sitka back under American control and likely leave Landsman unemployed. When a fellow resident of Landsman's fleabag hotel winds up dead, Meyer and his loyal cousin and partner, the half-Jewish, half-Tlingit Berko Shemets, are on the case, which leads them on a path of rabbi mafiosos, potential messiahs, and corrupt politicians of all ethnicities.
Although the plot bears little similarity to the other Chabon novels I've read, the crisp, entertaining writing style and masterful creation of characters remain the same. A bad haircut isn't just a haircut, it's an ungodly blend of a pompadour and a high-and-tight. The account of a sleepless night during which Landsman shares a bed with his two young nephews made me laugh out loud: "Around dawn, something terrible happens in the baby's diaper."
Although I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories (likes: interspecies friendships, the NBA. Dislikes: epic biographies of eccentric businessmen, conspiracy theories), and the latest novel isn't the breaktaking masterpiece of his Pulitzer Prize winner, it's still a great read.
Now, onto music.
I'm thoroughly enjoying my two recent purchases.
1. The new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky. Wilco is one of those bands who have been on my radar for a long time, but that I've never really been that into. Until now. I heard the song Walken on the radio and had to buy the new album, and I love it! Very mellow, full of melodic guitar and simple lyrics, with a strong an impossible to not notice similarity to the Grateful Dead. Has Jeff Tweedy always sounded exactly like Jerry Garcia and I somehow never noticed? Apparently. Anyways, here's my favorite track for your downloading pleasure.
2. I have raved about them before, but I ordered the Heartless Bastards album All This Time, and I need to give this fantastic band (with a fantastic name) another plug. Don't be fooled by the girlish drawing on the cover, this is no Lillith fair act. Frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom is pure rock and roll, with a powerful guitar and a voice to match, and musical charisma that will remind you of Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry. The Heartless Bastards play the type of music that makes you think of heartbreak, dive bars, and Bud bottles, but in a good way.
Searching For the Ghost