Critical Context

Publication of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh immediately established Chabon as one of the most promising young writers in the United States. He was given an unusually large payment for his hardcover contract as well as the opportunity to prepare a screenplay adaptation of the novel. In addition, short stories he had published in various journals were collected under the title A Model World (1991).

Amid a considerable outpouring of positive commentary, which compared Chabon to J. D. Salinger and Jack Kerouac, several reviewers emphasized the parallels with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, noting the similarities in sensitivity of Chabon’s narrator and Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby (1925). Chabon’s treatment of sexual ambiguity and multiplicity extended more traditional considerations of the nature of love and erotic attraction from the realm of familiar heterosexual experience toward the less rigid demarcation of sexual attraction that became an important element of postmodern literary ventures.