Michael Chabon

June 9, 2006


American, Pulitzer Prize winning author
Themes of divorce, fatherhood, homosexuality, and Judaism
Praised for characterizations and complex use of language

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988)

Originally written for his master’s thesis at UC Irvine
After its release Newsweek misidentified Chabon as a gay writer, although later he admits to
Reveals influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Art Bechstein, the son of a mob money launderer, falls into a love triangle with a charming young man, Arthur Lecomte, and a beguiling young woman named Phlox Lombardi


"Inside the building something engaged, and a low rumble grew quickly to a whine and a tattoo.  I took my steps in time with the metallic tapping of the Cloud Factory, jolted out of my rainy-Tuesday sleepiness.  Looking backward at it as I climbed, I had nearly gained the summit when a dense white billow blew from a giant valve, and then spread and rose into the air until a model cloud hung above my head, a textbook cloud, like a sheep, like cotton and all the cloud cliches.  At the same time, Phlox rather prissily crossed the bridge on her bicycle, trailing then scarves, posture perfect, sunglassed face forward and intent, probably, on the waiting white library in the distance.  She seemed to be beautifully dressed.  I stood still, half hidden against a cold red pile of the bridge, until the cloud began to break apart and she vanished into traffic.  I'd spied on Phlox again.  Something about her frightened me, though at the time I hadn't the word for it."

"After work I stepped outside, weakened by the air-conditioning, and tugged out the last cigarette in the pack.  Arthur and Phlox, side by side, approached from the direction of the library.  Phlox wore pearls, a strapless white dress patterned with blue flowers, and a pair of high-heeled white sandals; Arthur, light-gray trousers and a powder-blue blazer, with a tie, and oxfords without socks, like Prince Philip.  They were still far from me, and I watched as those they passed turned admiring heads; they drew near like an advertisement for summer and beauty and healthy American sex.  The sun was in their faces, but they neither squinted nor averted their eyes; the light fell across Phlox's necklace and Arthur's hair and the hint of silver wristwatch at his cuff.  I felt another of those sudden onslaughts of love, the desire to run to them and embrace them both, to be seen in their company, to live my life among men and women who dressed up like this and then went down the sidewalk like cinema kings."

"To say that I loved Phlox implies no lesson, no need or lack of need for her.  She is a world I gained and lost.  I have this picture, this stocking, and that is all."

"When I remember that dizzy summer, that dull, stupid, lovely, dire summer, it seems that in those days I ate my lunches, smelled another's skin, noticed a shade of yellow, even simply sat, with greater lust and hopefulness- and that I lusted with greater faith, hoped with greater abandon.  The people I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments.  No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything."


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