I love Michael Chabon. He is one of my top 5 favorite authors of all time. Moonglow is probably my favorite of his books, but I love his short stories. It’s a shame he doesn’t write short stories anymore. In his GQ article titled “Are Kids the Enemies of Writing, ” he wrote, “It’s that my children are expensive, and short stories just don’t pay very well. So I can’t afford to write short stories anymore.” If you aren’t a fan of long books, I highly recommend his short stories and essays. Werewolves in Their Youth is a personal favorite of mine. (The English major in me is coming out right now, sorry.) Anyways, here is my review of The Final Solution by Michael Chabon.
As I said, I love Michael Chabon. My brain just loves the way he writes. I fell in love with his writing the first time I read one of his short stories, and then he wrote Pops, which hit me with the daddy issues. But I haven’t read him in a long time. Moonglow came out in 2016. That was probably the last thing I read from him. I could try to make excuses on why I haven’t read him, but my “To-Be-Read” list is two people high. Finally, I got around to reading more of him, and I have to say, he did not disappoint.
The Final Solution is an easy, quick read. Is it Chabon’s best work? Absolutely not, but it is a fun read. Chabon takes on the mystery genre and tries to give it a twist. The story follows an old decrepit Sherlock Holmes. I had no idea this story was a Holmes story until I started reading it and got even more excited. While Chabon never uses the name Sherlock Holmes in the book, all the clues are there to identify him as such.
There are points throughout the story when the Old Man feels just as lost as Linnus, the boy whose Parrot is stolen. The Old Man feels out of place, like he belongs in the last century still, which only contrasts with the backstory of Linnus all the more. Linus is a mute Jewish boy. His parents killed in a concentration camp. Chabon perfectly captures the pain and sorrow caused by Hitler’s “final solution.”
What moves this story along is the mystery of the neighbor’s murder and why Linnus’ grey African Parrot rattles off German numbers. Is it a secret Nazi code? Or the numbers to a Swiss bank account? The Old Man decides to help Linnus find his stolen African Parrot and must uncover the truth of how the murder and the bird-napping are connected. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t finished or read the book, but Chabon does a great job of writing a mystery in 131 pages.
The Best Chapter
By far, the thing that makes this novella as good as it is is the chapter from the Parrot’s perspective. Any other author tries to write the chapter, and the story feels disconnected and discombobulated. What should feel like a mess of a chapter turns into a captivating chapter on the inhumanity of man. Read this novella for this chapter alone, if for nothing else. It’s one of the few times I’ve been in true awe of someone’s prose. The writer in me wants to understand his writing process for this novella and that chapter in specific.
3 out 5 stars
I know I was just raving about this book, so it might be shocking I only gave it a 3, but Chabon has much better works you should read. However, I highly recommend this novella if you are a fan of Sherlock, mystery, or quick reads.
The Next Book Club
Next month, we are reading Soulkeeper by David Dalglish. I’ve read one of his previous series, which I enjoyed up to a certain point, but I remain hopeful for this one. Plus, I am a huge sucker for anything related to monster hunting. (The Witcher, Supernatural, Kings of the Wyld, The Red Knight.) So I’m excited to see how this story plays out. And if you want to read something else from our past book clubs, I highly recommend Hounded by Kevin Hearne.