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“heavy on the castanets”

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One of the nicer parts of taking a vacation is that I get an opportunity to read. I’m not a huge fan of modern American fiction, but Michael Chabon is definitely a favorite. I picked up his new book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, in a bookshop off King Street in Charlotte and immediately fell back in love with his prose. Page 2 includes the best introduction to a character I’ve read in an age:

According to doctors, therapists, and his ex-wife, Landsman drinks to medicate himself, tuning the tubes and crystals of his moods with a crude hammer of hundred-proof plum brandy. But the truth is that Landsman has only two moods: working and dead. Meyer Landsman is the most decorated shammes in the District of Sitka, the man who solved the murder of the beautiful From Lefkowitz by her furrier husband, and caught Podolsky the Hospital Killer. … He has the memory of a convict, the balls of a fireman, and the eyesight of a housebreaker. When there is crime to fight, Landsman tears around Sitka like a man with his pant leg caught on a rocket. It’s like there’s a film score playing behind him, heavy on the castanets. The problem comes in the hours when he isn’t working, when his thoughts start blowing out the open window of his brain like pages from a blotter. Sometimes it takes a heavy paperweight to pin them down.

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