“Gentlemen of the Road”–a grand adventure

Chabon, Michael. “Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure”, Del Rey, 2007.

A Grand Adventure

Amos Lassen

Michael Chabon is an amazing writer and I relish every book he writes. “Gentlemen of the Road’ is quite different than anything else he has written yet it shows Chabon’s wonderful style of writing. He writes well and manages to incorporate many elements into his prose which enables the plot to move along at a great pace. I realize that the story of the two gentlemen, Zelikman and Amram  had their story originally published in the New York Tines in 2007 in serial form and I began to follow them then and I was glad to get their whole story in novel form so I could relax and read the whole megillah without waiting for an installment. Here is a thoughtful, thought provoking story of two wandering adventurers, two men who under ordinary circumstances would not be friends, making a journey they would probably not make, and encountering all kinds of fascinating experiences. Filled with wonderful illustrators and thoroughly enjoyed the tale of two mis-matched journeymen.

Zelikman, a Jew and an Amram, an African are con men and thieves who travel around using their techniques to rope innocent people into their schemes. That is until they meet up with a dethroned prince of the Khazars.

It is here that the adventure truly begins with some of the greatest swashbuckling scenes since the days of Errol Flynn movies. I realized that this is not a story to be taken very seriously and is not the adventure story I thought it was going to be. What amazes is how Michael Chabon can reinvent himself with each book that he writes; he always seems to attempt to try something new and different in each book that he writes. Here we have a story in the true pulp style with the tone and atmosphere of classic adventure tales. There is a lot of humor and a tribute to the adventures of old. Chabon’s writing is stylish and graceful and he obviously had a grand time writing this book. He has the ability to use the English language as if it is really something special and it is beautiful to read.

The meeting and merging of the swashbucklers and the history of the Khazars is masterfully handled and it is just plain fun. The Jewish kingdom of the Khazars is fascinating and Chabon’s spin on it makes it that much more so. What is missing, however, is some of the history of the region but that does not detract from the author’s storytelling ability. The purpose and tone of adventure is felt throughout the book and Chabon’s does not imitate, he pays homage.

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