$28.99ISBN: 9780062225559Availability: On Our Shelves NowPublished: Harper - November 22nd, 2016
A story told in the refracted light of memory, Michael Chabon’s brilliant and breathlessly involving Moonglow, is a memoir inside of a novel inside of a memoir. Lent verisimilitude by the occasional footnote and by the narrative voice, not of a fictional character but of the author as himself, it’s set up is like a sort of reverse Princess Bride (although the tale it tells is as far from fantasy as one can get): A grandfather, a man customarily taciturn, is in a garrulous state due to painkillers and to the fact that he’s on his deathbed, memories bubbling to the surface of his conscious mind, ready to spill over before death wipes them away for good.
He begins to tell his grandson, a writer, the tale of his own past and in the process that of his wife and daughter; the resultant saga of past lives, interrupted occasionally by the author’s exchanges in the kitchen with his own mother who played no small part in the unfolding drama, is as spellbinding as anything Chabon, always a magical storyteller, has ever written. His grandfather, a rebellious kid characterized by a creative mind, serious ADD, a grasp of science and a fascination with space, makes his way through South Philly and then the landscape of WWII, driven by those characteristics and obsessions, and by a stubborn sense of what’s right. His marriage to a beautiful woman horribly damaged, presumably by that war, is complicated in ways that impact their daughter hugely. The interwoven strands of these lives, interrupted by war but carrying on far into the future, make for fascinating reading, creating in the process a tapestry of war and peace, history and invention, love and family that illuminates the emotional aftermath of war, the realities of the world leading from rocketry into space travel, and more than anything, the intricacies of our entwined familial pasts and the ways they affect our present reality. At once quintessentially American and timelessly universal, Moonglow is a masterpiece. Truly.