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Literature / The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

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The first novel by award-winning author Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988) is a coming of age story following a young man, Art Bechenstein, as he finishes college and falls in a with a new group of friends in the following summer. Furthermore, his background as the son of a member of an organized crime family also complicates his relationships with his new friends and lovers.

It was adapted into a film in 2009, which was not well-received.


This book provides examples of:

  • Closet Key: Arthur Bechstein constantly describes Arthur Lecomte's apperance in obsessive detail, commenting on his shoe brand, the stubble on his jawline, the color of his chest hair and the way he blushes, among other characteristics. He even admits that he's fixated on him hours after meeting him, after a page-long soliloquy on Lecomte's homosexuality. It doesn't really come as a shock to anyone when they do it, though it takes about two thirds of the book to get there.
  • Ending Memorial Service: The novel ends with Cleveland's funeral and Art reflecting on the summer past and how the various characters have dealt and are dealing with it.
  • Love Triangle: Art falls into a bisexual one, torn between Arthur and Phlox.
  • The Mafia: Art's father is a senior member.
  • Meaningful Funeral: For Cleveland at the end of the book.
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  • Missing Mom: Art Bechstein's mom.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Art is searching for a way to win his father's approval.

Alternative Title(s): The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh