Moonglow by Michael Chabon
A Novel

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It plunges its hand into the reader’s heart, but it moves too slowly, digs too shallowly. Chabon has produced an excellent novel but not a great one.
-AV Club

Synopsis

Following on the heels of his New York Times-bestselling novel Telegraph Avenue, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon delivers another literary masterpiece: a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure-and the forces that work to destroy us.

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis of the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain in the ongoing magic act that is the art of Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact-and the creative power-of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies. A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century, Moonglow is also a tour de force of speculative history in which Chabon attempts to reconstruct the mysterious origins and fate of Chabon Scientific, Co., an authentic mail-order novelty company whose ads for scale models of human skeletons, combustion engines and space rockets were once a fixture in the back pages of Esquire, Popular Mechanics and Boy’s Life. Along the way Chabon devises and reveals, in bits and pieces whose hallucinatory intensity is matched only by their comic vigor and the radiant moonglow of his prose, a secret history of his own imagination.

From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill Prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of “the American Century,” Moonglow collapses an era into a single life and a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional non-fiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most daring, his most moving, his most Chabonesque.

 

About Michael Chabon

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Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves In Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and the middle-grade book Summerland. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
 
Published November 22, 2016 by Harper. 448 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon15
Peak Rank on Dec 11 2016
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Moonglow
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Nov 23 2016

...this is why you read Michael Chabon - for the self-deprecation and insight and brio all packed tight into sentences, fantastic stories and wild novels that you may think are a world away from where you live but always turn out to hit home.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Nov 22 2016

...despite its occasional misfires, Moonglow is an often rollicking, ultimately moving read. It's a love story about shooting for the moon on multiple levels but accepting shortfalls.

Read Full Review of Moonglow: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Shea Hennum on Nov 21 2016

It plunges its hand into the reader’s heart, but it moves too slowly, digs too shallowly. Chabon has produced an excellent novel but not a great one.

Read Full Review of Moonglow: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

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