I don’t entirely disagree with James Lewis‘ review of Michael Chabon‘s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union in the American Thinker. “Plotwise the novel is shapeless, as if the writer could not restrain himself and trim the excess,” he writes, and it’s a fair complaint. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay managed to be sleek and epic simultaneously, while The Yiddish Policemen’s Union clangs about, its deeply imagined world not quite connecting to its dry, overextended plotting. The remainder of Lewis’ review, though, is an interestingly rageoholic misreading:
There is no love unspoiled by hate in this book, there is no joy or pleasure, no innocence and playfulness, no music and dancing, there are no High Holidays, there are no happy children in Chabon’s imaginative world.
This is a bit like complaining that Robocop didn’t have enough love scenes. The American Thinker is a repository of right-wing vitriol, and its book reviews are clearly no different. (Lewis introduces Chabon to the reader by calling him “an American Leftwing atheistic Yiddishist, living, significantly, in Berkeley, California.”) Yet what struck me about this post is that I haven’t stumbled over much like it—I thought that there would be more of this nuttiness, both among critics and commenters, when the novel came out. Same goes for Philip Roth‘s The Plot Against America, another successful novel about a Jewish dystopia that didn’t seem to ruffle many feathers. Maybe the novel doesn’t have the power to provoke that it once did?