Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's Rapidly Vanishing Books: THE FINAL SOLUTION by Michael Chabon (THE PARIS REVIEW, 2003)



Michael Chabon, who among other things has guest-edited two of the best issues of the eclectic fiction magazine McSweeney's (and those issues subsequently republished as anthologies, covers below), also has written my favorite bit of Sherlockiana..."The Final Solution," a novella first published in The Paris Review in 2003 and published in a surprisingly unpopular chapbook (cover at left) the next year, involves the very elderly but still game Holmes (who is never named in the story) trying to plumb the mystery surrounding a child refugee from the Nazi pogroms, and his pet parrot. Thus Chabon's chief obsessions, from the systematic attack on Europe's Jews to pop-culture heroes (particularly in a fantasticated crime-fiction context), are mostly if not all exercised, and in fine and charming prose, with ready wit and only a late slip into the entirely fantasticated that I think slightly weakens the story, but the critic and novelist John Clute has argued with me that that little bit actually sums and reinforces the very point of the story...you probably won't be sorry to see which of us you agree with more, if you're game and can find a copy afoot (unlike most of my FFBs, this one is still readily in print, I believe...just not nearly as readily available as nearly every other Chabon book).


Patti Abbott's taking the week off, so look to her eventual listing, and perhaps I'll put one together when for a breath I tarry...these are the Chabon McSweeney's issues in their book form:


















October 1st's "Forgotten" Books:

Paul Bishop: This Girl For Hire by G.G. Fickling

Bill Crider: The Gone Man by Brad Solomon

Scott Cupp: Dread Island by Joe R. Lansdale

Ed Gorman: The Dead Beat by Robert Bloch

Randy Johnson: Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser

George Kelley: Four Color Fear edited by Gregg Sadowski

Richard Robinson: 12 Worlds of Alan E. Nourse by Alan E. Nourse

7 comments:

K. A. Laity said...

I'm sold. I'm not a big fan of Chabon, but this sounds like fun. I'll have to ask mt pal Stephanie if she's read it; she's an avid Sherlockian.

George said...

I've liked some of the Chabon I've read, but I'm in the minority about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: too long and draggy.

Todd Mason said...

This novella doesn't suffer from that at all; the overdetailed cuteness of the opening chapters of K&C is not present here.

It is fun, Kate.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Yet another familiar name. 'Cavaliar & Clay' is familiar too.This sounds like fun. I like fun.

Todd Mason said...

Well, this book is certainly fun, Paul!

Deb said...

Just read this recently and thought the premise, story, and writing were very charming. You can find a copy in your local library! :-)

Todd Mason said...

If you can find a library...and they probably will have one, if they are of any size, as Chabon is still favored...