I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy of this book, but waited until I reread on holiday to review. I have to put in a disclaimer – I love Michael Chabon. Love him. Except Telegraph Avenue, the last of his I read before this. The problem with loving an author is that you get really nervous about their new books (what if I hate this one? What if I hate it so much it puts me off all the previous ones?!) and so I wanted to be sure that I really did love Moonglow and didn’t just feel relief that he had returned to glowing form.
Moonglow begins with an author’s note that states “I have stuck to facts except when facts refused to conform with memory, narrative purpose, or the truth as I prefer to understand it”. The book blends facts and fiction as a writer called Mike Chabon listens to the deathbed confessions of his grandfather in this novel/memoir hybrid that unfurls in no particular chronological order and plays with our perspective at every turn.
This is not a dry exercise in literary fiction however, showcasing technical skill with no soul. We come to care deeply for the characters, and despite hurtling from Baltimore to Florida to Germany to a New York prison, forward and back from the 1940s to the present, it all feels effortless and surefooted. Chabon has such a particular way of describing objects vividly, and occasional sentences that stop the heart “She was always threatening rain; he had been born with an umbrella in his hand”.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be ‘Chabonesque’ – a stunning return to form from one of my all-time favourite authors.
Moonglow is published by 4th Estate (Harper Collins). I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.