I picked up this book because it was set in Pittsburgh, where I spent four years of my life, and it was on clearance at Borders (before they shut down). It was a departure from my usual fare since it is a Real Adult book and I typically read children's/YA stuff. But I like to make detours every once in awhile to remind myself how serious people write.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh follows recent college graduate Art as he tries to figure out what to do with his life. His father is a mobster, a field which neither Art nor his father wish for Art to get into. Art works at a bookstore and spends the rest of the time trying to have fun, make friends, and move on with life. I would consider this a very character-driven book as for a long time nothing much happens in the story. Despite the lack of an exciting plot, the author got me interested in the characters and their fates, so I kept reading. The book read for me much like The Great Gatsby, an observation I was glad to find was not off base when I read in the end notes that Chabon had intended it that way. I enjoyed thinking of Pittsburgh and envisioning the scenes while reading the book, especially when it came to what Art calls "the lost neighborhood" beneath the bridge. I walked over that bridge many times and wondered about the houses below, just as Art did, and it was cool to see it used in a story.
Chabon writes his characters in a way that feels realistic, and he has an excellent control of language. I felt like I could see the characters in the way he described them and their styles. Overall, however, there wasn't much to the story to keep me interested. Very little suspense or mystery, just a story about a guy who doesn't know who or what he wants from life. But a good story nonetheless.
Chabon, Michael. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. New York: Harper Collins, 1988.