John Leonard considers the unexpected Jewishness of Michael Chabon, whose new novel imagines a Jewish state in Alaska. Here’s a taste:
Here The Yiddish Policemen’s Union reminds me of the only other north-of-the-border Jewish novel in its major league, Mordecai Richler’s Solomon Gursky Was Here (1990). In Richler’s razzle-dazzle, where the Gurskys bore a startling resemblance to the Bronfmans from whom all Seagram’s flows, we got 150 years of arctic sky, black ravens, caribou bones, Old Testament loonytunes, Lévi-Strauss creation myths, Karl Marxist confabulations, and Gimpel the Fool on permafrost. Everything that wasn’t Oedipal would prove to be cannibalistic. And Solomon Gursky himself would seem to have agreed with Landsman, in his last word—IN CAPITAL LETTERS, NO LESS!—to an increasingly dubious biographer in 1978: “THE WORLD CONTINUES TO PAY A PUNISHING TOLL FOR OUR JEWISH DREAMERS.”
Am I the only one who hears everything Leonard writes in that laconic Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt/Charles Osgood voice of his?
TOP REASON TO READ THE WHOLE REVIEW: Jim Rockford and Jesus Christ appear in the same sentence.