rev. of A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon

Issue #55
Fall 1991

You might think that Michael Chabon is simply trying to twist your tongue when he writes sentences like this: "She had on one of those glittering, opalescent Intergalactic Amazon leotard-and-tights combinations that seem to be made of cavorite and adamantium and do not so much cling to a woman's body as seal her off from gamma rays and lethal stardust." In fact there is at times a certain kind of cosmic breathlessness that characterizes Chabon's style, but it never twists or stumbles. The stories in
A Model World carry out the vaunted promise of Chabon's first novel,
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and most readers will welcome both the broader range of his new work and its assured prose.

The first half of this new collection (many stories were previously published in
The New Yorker) contains stories like "Ocean Avenue" that are pure delights. Chabon has a gift for capturing the giddiness we feel when life gets a little too serious, and this is what makes his characters both amusing and sad. The second half of the collection is a group of stories about a young boy whose parents are in the process of divorce, and there's nothing overworked in Chabon's treatment of a muchmined subject. Even if you suspect there's an abandoned novel here, you'll be won over by the fine resolution of the individual stories. Endings may be the
bête noire of other writers, but Chabon's are consistently satisfying without being annoyingly consistent. There's much to savor here, and much to please.