One of my favorite things about reading is the organic nature of what I happen to read next. Sometimes there is a great amount of planning, plotting and purposeful selection. Other times, the books sort of fall into my hands through friends, thrift sales, and very insistent sisters. It’s hard for me to decide which is my favorite, but I might lean a smidge towards whimsy and chance.
I stumbled across Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution at the most amazing book barn in Connecticut and brought it back, excited at the find because I had several of Chabon’s books on my TBR. Then I realized that I had confused Michael Chabon with Dan Chaon. Dan Chaon = scary psychological thrillers. Michael Chabon = author of Pulitzer Prize winner Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. That was how I knew his name. Unfortunately, Kavalier and Clay didn’t sound like my kinda thing.
Still. I had the book. The blurb sounded really good – a mute 9-year-old German boy shows up in England after the end of WWII with an African Gray parrot that spouts strings of German numbers. Soon after, a man is murdered and the parrot goes missing, possibly all because of everyone’s interest in the mysterious numbers. Chabon styled the novella as a send-up of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and once you get that, the book brightens a little. Otherwise, the dialogue is hard to follow and the characters (some similarly named) are hard to keep straight. I didn’t care much for the overall effect, but I couldn’t give up the bird. That gorgeous African Gray and those numbers. What can I say – I’m a sucker for sneakery and codes. That was the only thing that kept me going. Well, that and it was only 131 pages.
Should you read it? Sure, absolutely. If you like mysteries and were a fan of Holmes… Holmes the literary character, not the TV show. Verrrrry different. It’s a nifty little story and I can see the charm it would hold for someone else. Just not my cuppa. Whatever I think of the story, it was clear Chabon has landscapes chock fulla talent; I’d try other stories by him. I’ll just make sure I borrow the next one from the library.