Moonglow is a feel good novel. Chabon takes his readers along in the life of a sympathetic engineer, type act first think later, with a rather inflexible focus on things. On his deathbed he talks about his life whilst his grandson, an author, is listening and taking notes. The truth about certain aspects of the family history is finally revealed.
Granddad, who is after all dying, does not tell his story chronologically, he rather jumps about the place. His grandson copies the account, rambling and all. Though I am convinced Chabon put much thought into the structure of his novel, the result as far as I am concerned is that I am continually leafing through the novel trying to get back on track. That Chabon is sidetracked continually, deviating from the main story, associating all the time sharing rather irrelevant information does not make it any easier to keep track. I was happy to be reading a paper copy that made leafing through the pages possible.
Granddad does have a certain roguish charm. In those episodes he, at a pretty advanced age, starts chasing a python eating pets in the compound for the elderly in order to impress a possible love interest he makes you want to cuddle him. His French-Jewish wife who has come out of World War 2 with an unhealthy fascination for a skinless horse which makes her end up in psychiatric care several times fascinates. I would have preferred it however if Chabon had stuck slightly closer to their story.
Moonglow could be considered a sturdy and serious variation on the theme that became quite popular with a certain Swedish guy leaving through the window. Chabon does take his readers along in the horrors of World War 2, the difficult decisions that are required of countries and individuals in a period of war and the grandfathers’s fascination for rockets. That does not make for a literary masterpiece, as it was acclaimed in one of my country’s most popular television shows (making the sales of the novels they discuss go sky high). Moonglow is entertaining, nothing less nothing more. I’d advise you to read the novel when you have some time on your hands and to use a paper copy, it does make it simpler to leaf through the pages.