The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Mystpittscvr.jpg
First edition cover
Author Michael Chabon
Cover artist Paul Bacon
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher William Morrow and Company
Publication date
April 1988
Media type Print (hardback & paperback) and audio cassette
Pages 297 (hardcover edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-688-07632-7 (hardcover edition)
OCLC 17108799
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 19
LC Class PS3553.H15 M97 1988

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988) is a novel by American author Michael Chabon. The story is a coming-of-age tale set during the early 1980s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

It was Chabon's first novel, which he began writing as a 21-year-old undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. He continued to work on it during his studies (1985–87) in the Creative Writing Program of the Department of English at the University of California, Irvine, where he submitted it as his thesis for the Master of Fine Arts degree. One of his advisors, the novelist MacDonald Harris, sent it to his literary agent. It was published in 1988 and became a bestseller.

A film adaptation—starring Jon Foster, Sienna Miller, Peter Sarsgaard, and Nick Nolte—was released in 2009.

Plot summary[edit]

Art Bechstein is the son of a mob money launderer, who wants him to succeed in a legitimate career. When Art graduates from college, he has only a vague hope for a summer of adventure before he commits to the rest of his life. Bechstein almost immediately meets a charming young gay man, Arthur Lecomte, and his friend, a highly literate biker, Cleveland Arning, who become his partners in many summer adventures. Art begins a relationship with an insecure young woman named Phlox Lombardi. As Art's attraction to Arthur grows, it destabilizes both relationships and reveals he may be bisexual. Art is also troubled when Cleveland begins moving deeper into the city's organized crime families, drawing him closer to his father's dangerous Mafia connections. Art's relationships with his family, friends, and lovers become more and more entangled, causing a series of fallings out and unforeseen consequences.

Settings[edit]

The novel takes place during summer. It begins in April, just after Bechstein has finished his four-year undergraduate education at the University of Pittsburgh. Specific settings include Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, Hillman Library, Lake Erie, Presbyterian University Hospital, Schenley Park, Schenley Bridge, and the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Downtown, Mount Washington, East Liberty, Fox Chapel, and Highland Park. A boiler plant, informally labeled The Cloud Factory, located in Junction Hollow between Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, plays a special role in the novel.

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

Because of the book's straightforward, even playful, treatment of gay love and bisexuality, Chabon was early-on identified as a gay writer. He has frequently been asked if this identification concerned him; his usual reply is that he worries that gay readers might feel he was being presented to them, under false pretenses, as one of their own.

A recently reissued edition featured an Author's Note entitled "P.S.", which details some of the novel's inspiration, problems, and process. For example, he often had to balance his early-model computer precariously on an old tool table. Many fans of his work questioned Chabon's sexuality, because of the gay characters in his novels. On page 12 of the expanded Notes section, he reveals that, although he is currently married to a woman, he has had same-sex relationships in the past.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ On The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: Essay by Michael Chabon