Guardian links

I didn’t find an awful lot to interest me in this week’s Guardian review, but I’ve read and enjoyed a few Michael Chabon books in the past so I enjoyed reading this interview with him.

I also enjoyed reading this article about Vanessa Bell, but I won’t be going to the exhibition of her work which is on at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. She is of course famous as being one of the Bloomsbury Group and sister of Virginia Woolf.

I’ve gone right off doing any road trips in England for the moment, after they voted for Brexit – I think it’s fair enough that I spend money holidaying in Scotland instead and doing something for the Scottish economy – hopefully.

I read on a blog recently that the Brexit vote could be described in Austen terms as 48% voting for Sense and Sensibility and 52% for Pride and Prejudice. That just about sums it up.

Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Every now and again I like to read something quite different from my usual diet and this one fitted the bill.

It’s an alternative history which has Sitka, Alaska as the Jewish homeland instead of Israel. The lease on the land is running out and with possibly as few as 1 in 5 of the inhabitants being allowed to stay on there, they are all having to apply for permission.

The book is a murder mystery which follows the tried and trusted formula of the hard drinking detective, with a failed marriage in the background.

I would have liked a glossary as there were lots of Jewish/Yiddish words bandied around and I sometimes had to guess at their meanings. I suspect some of them were made up. I used to know a lot of Jewish words as I read a lot of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Chaim Potok and such as a youngster, but I’ve forgotten a lot. They always had a glossary.

There were characters called ‘boundary mavens’ who rigged up poles and strings along the neighbourhoods so that Jews worried about breaking the Sabbath when they carried things or walked their dogs could get around the Jewish rules. This strikes me as being so typical of the religious zealots who always seem to spend a lot of time bending rules to fit their consciences. Well, I found it funny.

The novel got rave reviews, which is a bit of a mystery to me. It was entertaining but it wouldn’t be on my – one to read again list.

I quite enjoyed this book except for the odd bit of – what can I say?