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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

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Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America - the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America - the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.


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Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America - the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America - the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

30 review for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are drinking Peet's coffee and eating zampanos in front of the Cheeseboard on Shattuck Avenue. MC: Ayelet, I'm trying to think of a new idea for a novel. It's gotta be fresh, bold.... Something nobody's ever thought of before! AW: Wow, Michael, that's a tough one. There have been so very many novels written over the years, it's hard to come up with something new that's never been done before.... MC: Yeah, I need an idea that's totally original..... Maybe I should a Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are drinking Peet's coffee and eating zampanos in front of the Cheeseboard on Shattuck Avenue. MC: Ayelet, I'm trying to think of a new idea for a novel. It's gotta be fresh, bold.... Something nobody's ever thought of before! AW: Wow, Michael, that's a tough one. There have been so very many novels written over the years, it's hard to come up with something new that's never been done before.... MC: Yeah, I need an idea that's totally original..... Maybe I should ask the kids, they're creative... Hey, where are the kids? AW: The kids? I don't know. We had 'em when we left Andronico's.... MC: That's odd.... AW: Ah, fuck 'em. The important thing is that we're together. Let's focus on thinking of something innovative, new, a bit wild.... MC: Ayelet -- I have an idea! An idea for my next novel! AW: What? What? MC: It'll be about..... some boys! AW: Yes--? MC: Yes, some -- some JEWISH boys! And they're.... AW: They're what, Michael?? What are they doing??? MC: They're living in -- in BROOKLYN!! AW: (gasps) It's.... BRILLIANT! My God! MC: But not the Brooklyn of today, Ayelet, no -- Brooklyn during the middle of the last century! AW: Oh, Michael -- you're a genius! No one's ever written a book like that before! MC: You know what else?? AW: Don't tell me -- no, no, do! DO! Tell me right away!!! MC: These boys.... they're into comic books! I mean, REALLY into comic books. AW: Comic books? Jewish boys living in Brooklyn in the middle of the last century, who're really into comic books? Oh Michael, do you think the world is ready for a novel like that? Such a drastic break with the entire history of American literature -- it could be risky! MC: It could be, that's true. Especially if I mention..... the NAZIS! AW: It's bold, Michael. It's bold, but I think... you should do it. You know, guys like Jonathan Lethem would give their left nut to come up with ideas like this. MC: Guys like Jonathan Lethem don't have my vocabulary. AW: I bet you get a Pulitzer for this one, babe. MC: I bet I do too. Bookster: Jessica, what the hell is your problem? What are you even talking about??? J: Uh..... nothing. B: Did you even read this book? J: (quietly) No. B: Do you know anything ABOUT these people? J: (looks down) No. B: Or this book? J: Nope. B: You know, I happen to love this brilliant novel. Michael Chabon is a highly gifted writer, and so his wife, who is also an extremely caring and wonderful mother, much better than you'd ever be. What do you think this behavior is all about, J? J: (makes small shrugging motion, mumbles incoherently) B: Can you speak up a little? J: (more distinctly) I didn't like the beginning. (clears throat) Actually, I hated the beginning. It made me want to throw up. It made me want to throw up and.... B: And.....? J: And it also made me want to fall asleep. So I got.... B: Yes....? J: I got scared, B. You know that's how Jimi Hendrix died, right? B: You're pathetic. J: Hey, you asked. B: You are a small person. J: That may be. B: You're jealous. And also not smart. You're just mad because you don't have any Pulitzers or babies, and you never will! J: HEY, woah! Where's all THAT coming from? B: Okay, sorry, I didn't mean.... Look, I happen to like both these writers a lot, okay? Maybe we should just stop here. Don't you have things you're supposed to be doing? J: I guess I do, yeah. B: You should get off the Internet. This is a little bit crazy. J: It's been tough lately. My small life. You know, lonely, childless, semi-literate..... B: Look, I said I was sorry. Can we drop it? J: Yeah, fine, sure. Whatever you say. B: You should really read this book, though. Your characterization of it is insulting and ridiculous. If you gave it half a chance, you'd be totally amazed. J: My charac-- B: Run along!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    In the street “Hey!” “Huh? me?” “Yeah – you. You wouldn’t know great American literature if a pigeon pooed it all over your anorak.” Wow – that was surreal… who the hell were those guys? At the office “The boss wants to see you.” Oh my… that’s Mrs Higgins sitting there with Mr Duthie – she’s from the HR department! What’s going on? “Paul, hi, sit down, yes. This is… rather awkward. You see, it has come to our attention that you’ve been, well, how can I put this delicately, heard to say… hmmm…that Micha In the street “Hey!” “Huh? me?” “Yeah – you. You wouldn’t know great American literature if a pigeon pooed it all over your anorak.” Wow – that was surreal… who the hell were those guys? At the office “The boss wants to see you.” Oh my… that’s Mrs Higgins sitting there with Mr Duthie – she’s from the HR department! What’s going on? “Paul, hi, sit down, yes. This is… rather awkward. You see, it has come to our attention that you’ve been, well, how can I put this delicately, heard to say… hmmm…that Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is well… not bad. Pretty good. Okay-ish. That kind of thing.” “Er, yes, that’s right, I have.” “Hmmm, well. Er – Mrs Higgins, can you explain?” “Certainly. Mr Bryant, we have a copy of the terms and conditions of employment which you signed. As you know, part one clearly states that the employee agrees to promote the company’s mission at all times. The mission is encapsulated in the Mission Statement. Perhaps you need reminding of it. Our mission statement : We undertake to manufacture by carbon neutral means the world’s greatest sprockets and to work in harmonic partnership with our friends, colleagues and customers to ensure Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is recognised throughout the English speaking world as the Great American Novel” “Wow, I had never seen that last bit!” “It was revised in 2000 when Mr Chabon published the novel.” “Well, I’m not sure I like the drift of this discussion. I don’t dislike Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay! It’s pretty good!” “Well, Paul… I’m very sorry, but that’s sort of the point of this interview. Really though, I’m surprised at you. Do you know that Bret Easton Ellis declared the novel "one of the three great books of my generation" ? Did you not know that?” “Well, ,but, with respect Mr Duthie, Bret Easton Ellis is an overhyped jerk whose theatre of cruelty has been gulling the young and the impressionable for decades! His opinion counts for less than nothing! Less than nothing, do you hear me, less than nothing!” Bangs table. Mr Duthie groans and puts his head in his hands. “Mr Bryant, this is to formally inform you that this is your first formal written warning regarding this matter. Here. File it. Next to The Rules of Attraction.” At the hairdressers “I’m sorry Mr Bryant, nobody is available to cut your hair today.” “But I see three of them hunched over a dog-eared copy of Wonder Boys and they’re clearly not cutting anyone’s hair!” “I’m sorry….” In court Third witness : I clearly heard him say that if Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is the great American novel then Everybody Loves Raymond is the great American sitcom. Crowd : Ooooh – we like Everybody Loves Raymond too. Prosecutor : Mr Bryant, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a magical novel. Its recreation of the golden age of the comics industry is, although cloaked in fiction, picture perfect. Its characters -- Joe and his struggle to bring his family to America; Sam and his complex relationship to his father; Rosa and the depths of both her talent and compassion -- are gripping. This novel's epic sweep is constructed with tender moments of heartfelt intimacy. The story itself is, in many ways, the story of the USA itself: the Depression, the American dream, isolationism, the dichotomy of racism and integration, sexual repression, the Second World War, the paranoid 1950s. How , therefore, can you describe it as – I quote – “often like reading a recipe book instead of eating the cake…the seventy five earnest historical facts per paragraph tend to slow the story down to a sludgy creep for fifty pages at a time…” and this… “Every 50 pages or so I had to read a couple more ecstatic reviews to jolt me into continuing, which was like getting sick of one’s exercycle and watching a George Clooney movie and thinking okay I remember why I am doing this and getting back on the exercycle.” Crowd : booooo! Boooo! Me : Hey, where did you get that from? Prosecutor : this is from your very own Goodreads review… PB : But but that’s not there anymore Prosecutor : no, of course not, the management deleted it within ten minutes. They run a responsible book reviewing site! At home “Jeez, the day I’ve had.” “Yeah, but look, you bring this down on yourself. I mean, the Daily Telegraph said Perfection. There are perhaps four other novels I’ve enjoyed this much. And none of them has made me cry more." “Well.. er… that reviewer must have led a very sheltered life. And not read many books.” Silence. “My mother was right! You have a heart of stone! And very poor critical facilities! Oh, what have I done! Why did this happen to me?” "There there, it's only a novel." "Oh my God you're at it again!"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    My favourite adventure with a novel so far this year. I loved it to bits. In many ways attempting to review this novel is like thinking back through an illusionist or an escape artist’s performance of his trick and trying to work out exactly how he did it. You’re left a little baffled by the nature of the magic of the thing. Ironically for a novel inspired by magicians, there are few tricks in this novel. It features no post-modernist sleights of hand with regards structure or voice. It is strai My favourite adventure with a novel so far this year. I loved it to bits. In many ways attempting to review this novel is like thinking back through an illusionist or an escape artist’s performance of his trick and trying to work out exactly how he did it. You’re left a little baffled by the nature of the magic of the thing. Ironically for a novel inspired by magicians, there are few tricks in this novel. It features no post-modernist sleights of hand with regards structure or voice. It is straightforward storytelling at its most magical and engrossing – the plot frequently twisting with fresh surges of adrenalin. Its mesmerising power is all in the vitality and hightide imaginative reach of its story and the compelling moving humanity of its two main characters, Josef Kavalier and his American cousin Sam Clay. The premise: Josef Kavalier’s family pay for him to emigrate from Prague to New York as the Nazis rise to power. As often was the case for Jewish families in those days the Nazi authorities kept the money but withheld the necessary papers at the last minute. Eighteen year old Joe, with the aid of his Houdini like escape artist teacher, has to smuggle himself out of occupied Prague in a coffin with Prague’s legendary Golem. He eventually makes it to Brooklyn and shares a room with his cousin Sam Clay. The way Sam initially looks after Joe and introduces him to his world and the way their bond liberates Sam is beautifully portrayed. Sam too is a great fan of Houdini and together they invent The Escapist, a superhero whose attraction to Joe is that he can vicariously use him to wage a one man war on the Nazis. Joe’s ambition now is to pay for his family to escape the Nazis. Escape is always the name of the game in this novel. (Sam has a secret he is trying to escape from.) There’s barely a single female character in this novel for 200 pages. And then Rosa Saks arrives… The comic book theme of Kavalier & Clay has put me off reading this for years. I remember a paperback copy was knocking about in my first flat in Florence and despite the difficulty of getting hold of novels in English I still never felt inclined to read it. Comic books have no more relevance to my life than darts or bingo. I’ve never been anywhere near a film which features a costumed hero in a mask and lurid tights. Therefore I was far from sure I would enjoy this novel. Kavalier & Clay, like so many other novels, attempts to get at the quintessence of the American dream and it does a decent job, chronicling so many of the characteristics of American cultural and political life between 1939 and the 1950s. But the real triumph of this novel is its dramatization of intimate worlds, of friendship, of sexual love, of parenting, of private obsessions and yearnings, and of the creative process - the relationship between artist and inspiration, the process and the exuberance of artistic creation, is one of its most exciting achievements. We also see the relationship between artist and the corporate world, and between artist and censorship too. The friendship between Joe and Sam is a joy to read from start to finish, one of the most moving accounts of synergistic liberating companionship I’ve ever read. Some of Joe’s actions are questionable but because Sammy always forgives him so do we. Sammy is a kind of moral touchstone in this novel. And, as his surname suggests, he’s also the novel’s Golem, the catalyst for all the novel’s magic. It’s also him who expresses our own scepticism about comic books as high art - though in the end Chabon makes a great case for the important cultural significance of the comic book. This is one of those novels when you sense that half the trick of writing a rich compelling novel is for the author to feel a consuming love for his characters and get to the heart of them. Chabon clearly loves his characters and this love is highly contagious. If you haven’t already read it, give it a try. It’s heartwarming and exciting and magical and utterly engrossing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarahfina

    Aaron and I are starting a club for people who hated this boring, boring book. Anyone want to join?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    Only an enormous ego could've mustered out something so monumental, so very beautiful & elegant as this sparkly-as-chrome novel. It's basically flawless--very concerned with having all sentences that make it up into wondrous, unique gems. Every sentence is constructed with care & CRAFT. The novel begins by grabbing the reader by the lapels to show how the bonds between cousin geniuses who build an empire out of superhero comics unravel. It takes its time to get us there, so we are in for Only an enormous ego could've mustered out something so monumental, so very beautiful & elegant as this sparkly-as-chrome novel. It's basically flawless--very concerned with having all sentences that make it up into wondrous, unique gems. Every sentence is constructed with care & CRAFT. The novel begins by grabbing the reader by the lapels to show how the bonds between cousin geniuses who build an empire out of superhero comics unravel. It takes its time to get us there, so we are in for a cinematographic ride through the years that bookmarked WWII in the great land of opportunity: mainly NYC. There are collisions with history: a legacy left from Houdini is taken up by the ambitious young Josef Kavalier, Dali's life is saved by Kavalier, and Orson Welles inspires Clay to draw on his masterpiece "Citizen Kane" to change the very way storytelling is depicted in the comics. This is a petition, very headstrong and brilliant, to elevate the craft of comic books into a substantial art form. That the heroes of the tale resemble those that they draw is a guise to imbue the fantastic world with the ever-so real. Film equivalents: "The Aviator" (2005), "Citizen Kane." In fact, it is the story of the baby-faced entrepreneur that K & C tries to emulate, & actually kinda surpasses it. It is about MANNY things, about history of course, but also about that pesky threesome that sometimes forms when great minds align. About the father-son relationship, the partnership between hero & sidekick, the building of something amazing, that lasts for future generations to enjoy or partake in. Is there any other emblem to tie all of this together than that monstrous tower a.k.a. Empire State Building on the book's cover????

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    I’m a fan of Michael Chabon even though he carries a man purse. Joe Kavalier is a young artist who had also trained to be a magician and escape artist in Prague. When the Nazis invade in 1939, Joe is able to escape to America with the plan that he’ll find a way to get the rest of his family out. In New York, he meets his cousin Sam Clay. Sam is an artist of limited talent who has been doing drawings for the ads of a novelty toy company, but the recent boom of superhero comics thanks to the newly I’m a fan of Michael Chabon even though he carries a man purse. Joe Kavalier is a young artist who had also trained to be a magician and escape artist in Prague. When the Nazis invade in 1939, Joe is able to escape to America with the plan that he’ll find a way to get the rest of his family out. In New York, he meets his cousin Sam Clay. Sam is an artist of limited talent who has been doing drawings for the ads of a novelty toy company, but the recent boom of superhero comics thanks to the newly created Superman has inspired him to try and break into that budding industry. When Sam sees Joe’s artistic talent, they form a partnership and Sam talks the owner of the novelty company into launching a comic line featuring masked men. Joe and Sam create a group of comic characters including The Escapist, a magician and escape artist who is also endowed with super strength by an ancient secret society to help free the oppressed. Sam’s story telling instincts and Joe’s art quickly make The Escapist one of the most popular comics on the market. However, Joe’s inability to get his family out of Europe due to anti-Semitic German bureaucracy and US government red tape continually leaves him frustrated and angry. Falling in love only makes him feel guiltier for his happiness and success. Meanwhile, Sam buries himself in work to avoid admitting that he’s a homosexual until a relationship with a radio actor forces him to confront his nature. Chabon’s a comic geek, and he really understands the medium at a DNA level. This is obviously his ode to the Golden Age of comics when the industry was born. My favorite part of the book is where Joe and Sam are trying to come up with a new hero, and their conversation about what will work and what won’t is a great deconstruction of what makes for a good superhero. The following weekend they spend with a group of artists cooking up several heroes to fill out an entire comic book made me feel the energy and creativity that seemed to be present in air of the New York comic scene in those days. The book also highlights the flaws of funny books of the time, too. Chabon makes it clear that a lot of the stuff that came out was schlock thrown together cheaply and quickly, and the stories about creators getting ripped off by publishers are legion. We also get into how comics were thought of back then. Despite their large sales, they were shunned and mocked by the general public and seen as lurid trash for children. Joe and Sam are proud of their creations, but they’re also embarrassed to be writing about men in tights. Joe often feels that he’s wasting his time with war looming and his family trapped in Europe, but it’s giving him the money he needs to try and get them out so he takes out his frustration by having The Escapist beating the Nazis in the pages of the comic book. The first half of the book is the portion that I really love. There’s a point where Sam & Joe attend the premiere of Citizen Kane, and its clever story structure and inventive camera angles inspire them to push their own work into a more adult direction. (It’s also a nice nod to the way that comics eventually started breaking the old nine panel per page format and became more cinematic.) To me, that’s the high water mark of the book because for one brief shining moment, the two men see what a comic book could become and temporarily manage to push their own self-imposed limitations aside to create something new. Unfortunately, like any Golden Age, it doesn’t last Joe can’t let go of his desire for the kind of justice that a character like The Escapist deals out regularly because he‘s looking for the wrong kind of satisfaction. Sam wants so badly to be ‘normal’ and respected that he ends up living a lie and trying to be anything but what he is: a gay writer of pulp fiction. Chabon has crafted a great look at a bygone era and meshed it with a pretty good story about a couple of likeable characters so embroiled in their own private triumphs and tragedies that they don’t realize that they’re among the pioneers of a new art form even as they create it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    While being a fun and interesting story, K&C does not feature deep character development and was IMHO about 100 pages too long. That being said, I found it highly entertaining and even instructive about the origins of comics. The descriptions of New York in the 30s, 40s and 50s was nice and the comics Chabon invented to tell the story were very creative. There is a bit of sentimentality here, but not too much and it was interesting to read this book just after Roth's I Married a Communist as While being a fun and interesting story, K&C does not feature deep character development and was IMHO about 100 pages too long. That being said, I found it highly entertaining and even instructive about the origins of comics. The descriptions of New York in the 30s, 40s and 50s was nice and the comics Chabon invented to tell the story were very creative. There is a bit of sentimentality here, but not too much and it was interesting to read this book just after Roth's I Married a Communist as the commission at the end was inspired by the same inquisitorial period of the 50s. Overall, I did enjoy it but wonder if Joyce Carol Oates or Joy Williams fans felt ripped off but I have read neither Blonde nor The Quick and the Dead which were respectively their books that were Pulitzer runners up when Chabon won in 2001. Perhaps someone else has? How about Chabon’s other books?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Whenever I mentioned the name of this book to a friend, a huge grin broke out of their face. This was a universal reaction. As were the words: "I LOVE that book. That book is GREAT." Not just how good it was, or skilled writing (though those things are also very true), but just how in love with it they were. You can't fake that. And now I know why! I read it in two short spurts, covering about three days each, and I was done. Once you pick it up, its hard to put it down for around another hundred Whenever I mentioned the name of this book to a friend, a huge grin broke out of their face. This was a universal reaction. As were the words: "I LOVE that book. That book is GREAT." Not just how good it was, or skilled writing (though those things are also very true), but just how in love with it they were. You can't fake that. And now I know why! I read it in two short spurts, covering about three days each, and I was done. Once you pick it up, its hard to put it down for around another hundred pages. There are some sentences that are just so absorbing and beautiful, passages that are just built up so well that I found myself going back to read them over and over. Parts of it were just so exhilarating to read, I had to stop and just bask in how good it made me feel to read. (Similar to the feeling I got from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.) The only complaints I had about it (which is why it gets four stars and not five) is that my attention wandered during Joe's travels in the middle. I thought that was a bit much and it didn't make sense to me except as a metaphor so heavy handed I will hit the author if that's what he meant. I also didn't like the way that so much time passed, and yet 12 years later everything could be tied up with a little shiny bow as "best for everyone," like so little had changed. I just didn't think Chabon gave enough credit to what twelve years does to people. He sort of dealt with it, but very quickly, and it felt like after hundreds of pages of careful development he was rushing to bring it to a close. Then again, that could be me just wanting more of the characters, who knows? Still fantastic. If you have ever loved comic books, this book is necessary to your life. It's a love letter to escapism in general, but to the comic book industry and superheroes in general.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Whitaker

    In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon asks one of the oldest questions asked in stories, and gives us the oldest answer. But, you know, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that because, really, the oldest answer is the right one. What’s the question? It’s the one asked by ever since man started telling stories: What is a hero? And his answer is, “It’s not the guy who goes out there with fisty cuffs and guns blazing. It’s the guy who goes out there and comes back every night In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon asks one of the oldest questions asked in stories, and gives us the oldest answer. But, you know, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that because, really, the oldest answer is the right one. What’s the question? It’s the one asked by ever since man started telling stories: What is a hero? And his answer is, “It’s not the guy who goes out there with fisty cuffs and guns blazing. It’s the guy who goes out there and comes back every night to feed his wife and kid. That’s the hero.” He’s taken all the tropes of super hero comic books, but in the end it’s not the guy with the magic, the secret lair, the girl, and the gun that’s his hero. In the end, he’s just the side-kick. It’s the other guy. The one you didn’t notice, the one with the secret identity hiding his true self. He’s the hero. He’s the one who puts aside his own life to set free the people he cares most about. That’s what heroism is about. I love this book. I love that it’s about comic books, and superheroes, and story-telling. But most of all, I love that it’s about love and what it takes to be a real hero.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    Eh? I have started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with certain expectations - if not great, then at least considerable. I have seen Chabon's name pop up on this site pretty often, reminding me of the fact that I have not yet read anything by him - this seemed like an obvious choice. At 634 pages it stands proudly as the author's magnum opus, and proved to be a critical darling by winning the Pulitzer in 2001. When you can, aim for the greats! So what's the big deal? The book Eh? I have started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with certain expectations - if not great, then at least considerable. I have seen Chabon's name pop up on this site pretty often, reminding me of the fact that I have not yet read anything by him - this seemed like an obvious choice. At 634 pages it stands proudly as the author's magnum opus, and proved to be a critical darling by winning the Pulitzer in 2001. When you can, aim for the greats! So what's the big deal? The book has an engaging premise: it opens in Prague of 1939, where a Jewish teen named Josef Kavalier is fascinated by Harry Houdini and studying the art of escapology to prepare for the biggest trick of his life - flee the Nazi horror which slowly begins to surface in Czechoslovakia. After forming an ingenious plan and successfully carrying it out, Josef arrives in New York City to live with his cousin, Sammy Clay. Although things are awkward at first, the boys quickly hit it off when Sammy discovers Josef's artistic talent and lands him a job as an illustrator at Empire Novelty Company - Josef rebrands himself as "Joe" to sound more American. It's the Golden Age of Comic Books; after the enormous success of Superman the company wants to jump on the bandwagon, and is willing to let both boys prove themselves. The Kavalier & Clay duo creates a new character, The Escapist - an anti-fascist superhero who can perform amazing feats of escapology to fight crime, with Sammy writing the stories and Joe illustrating them. Although The Escapist achieves immense popularity, the boys lives are not free from trouble and worry - with Joe frantically trying to get his family out of Prague and Sammy struggling with the question of his own identity. Chabon's love for the comic book is obvious: Joe's escape from Prague is a heroic attempt which could well find its place in a graphic novel - the theme of escapism is present throughout the book: Joe's literal escape from certain doom and later from his own demons, the character of the Escapist, escaping reality through reading, etc. Chabon's novel is a paean to comic books - set in their Golden Age, a period which has seen the rise of heroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America...Chabon's characters face the realities of publishing world at the time - they are mercilessly exploited by the publishers and shunned at by the reading public, as their work is seen as immature fun for children. The creation of The Escapist allows Chabon to have his character ponder what makes superheroes "tick", and their creative energy and joy of creation reflect the author's own enjoyment and love for the subject. The bad thing is that it overshadows almost everything else. There are so many fascinating topics in this book which are barely glossed over and given the most cursory treatment. Josef is a Czech Jew - but you would never guess that if it wasn't explicitly stated. Although the novel opens in Prague during the war, it could be set anywhere in eastern/central Europe - it's only set in Prague because Chabon wants to employ the local legend of the Prague Golem and incorporate it into his work as a clever way for his character to flee the country. The Czechs are wonderful people with a specific and unique culture and a long and interesting history, and their mountainous country is gorgeous (I had the pleasure of visiting it last year so my memories are especially fresh). I have read Czech and Slovak fairytales and fables when I was a boy. There's so much more to the country and the people than the legend of the golem - unfortunately, in this novel an entire nation has been reduced to background decoration for the opening act and discarded afterwards. After Joe's arrival in New York City, nothing more is made of his Czechness and he doesn't even experience any struggle with adaptation to the new country, typical for new immigrants - although he was not happy about leaving Prague for "unimaginable Brooklyn" he adapts to the U.S. literally overnight, and is ready for enormous success the next day - making the character look flat and lifeless. Last year I've read David Benioff's enormously entertaining book titled City of Thieves (reviewed here), set in Leningrad during the German occupation - the deadliest siege in history. Benioff's book has a great sense of place and is compulsively readable - he's a screenwriter by profession and he knows how to use tension and sustain pacing, and at the same time create memorable characters and an engaging narrative, holding true to an outlandish premise but not rendering the whole book flat. That's not the case here - Joe's escape is a small section at the beginning which ends almost immediately after it starts. Joe initially arrives in San Francisco from Japan - but the possibility of an adventure in imperial Japan (and Stalinist Russia before it - have to get to Japan somehow) is completely dropped, as if Chabon couldn't muster the energy to fully develop the possibility of his own creation. Anyone seeking an insightful work of fiction concerning World War 2, the Holocaust and antisemitism will also likely be disappointed. These characters seem to live in an America of complete religious tolerance - somewhat surprising in mid 20th century. as I felt as if the whole background of war was employed because it's a big subject, which is likely to appeal to readers and critics alike (not to mention the Holocaust). It feels exploitative; I was born in a city destroyed during the war and in a country which it damaged beyond repair. My primary school is located on the street named after a member of the underground resistance, who was caught by the Gestapo and put through extremely brutal and torturous interrogation - just a few streets away from where I'm typing these words. He was liberated after a brave attack on the car which was transporting him to prison, but died from injuries inflicted upon him by the Gestapo. People put flowers and light candles under memory plaques, and the streets fill with them - schoolchildren regularly do that to commemorate those murdered by the German soldiers. Joe Kavalier seems to be made a Jew and escape the Holocaust only to have a semblance of personality - after all, how could one call a Holocaust survivor dull? In 1943 Betty Smith wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is also set in New York although a bit earlier - in the early 1910's. Smith's beautiful book did not win a Pulitzer - it did not win any awards - but remains a timeless classic and a timeless portrayal of the struggles faced by an immigrant family in the Brooklyn borough of Williamsburg. I doubt that any reader would be able to not care for Francie Nolan, the protagonist; Smith effortlessly paints a vivid and detailed picture of Brooklyn and its inhabitants with care and compassion as she herself grew up poor in Williamsburg, making Chabon's portrayal of New York look like a cheap imitation. The relationship between Joe and Sammy resembles the traditional relationship between the Hero and the Sidekick, and since Batman will always be cooler than Robin Sammy gets pushed into the background, and even when Kavalier is not on the stage he always plays the main role. And then there is....(view spoiler)[the fact that Sammy is gay - the struggle with his sexuality is so insignificant that it's barely noticeable, and comes out (get it? ha ha!) as tacked on as yet another big subject to cross of the list - New York? Check. Jewish characters? Check. World War 2? Check. The Holocaust? Check. What did we forgot? Aaaah, a gay character! Check.) (hide spoiler)] . It seemed to me that these characters were not done justice; the ideas of these characters are great, not so much the characters themselves. There's too much melodrama, and not enough depth. It's especially evident in the fact that they're contrasted against the even more unremarkable background characters, who move in and out without greater significance. It seems to me as if Michael Chabon wanted to have two worlds in this book: a real world and a comic book world, but didn't quite know how to mix them and achieve a compromise and resorted to an either-or: a real world (complete with footnotes) when it comes to comic books, the seriousness of being an artist and all the joys and frustrations that come with it, being trapped in a creative ghetto of a form looked down upon, but applied the comic-book simplified and generalized approach to almost everything else, concluding with a sudden and anti-climatic ending. It's almost as if the author's pen started running out of ink early into the project, and he had to dilute it with water - lots of water - to be able to continue to write: the resulting pages include sections which are sharp and clear and some which are almost transparently thin. The result if a short and readable would-be novel, which somehow became an overly long and often plodding book resembling an old circus performer, long out of practice: while it can still manage some entertaining stunts, in the end it loses balance and stumbles on its own legs, falls down and lands flat on the ground and doesn't really know what happened.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    3.5 stars "The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in th 3.5 stars "The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place." Joe Kavalier is an amateur magician living in Czechoslovakia during the rise of Hitler. His Jewish family saves enough money allowing Joe to make a daring escape to freedom and his American family. He leaves behind his loving parents, a grandfather, and a beloved younger brother; but they promise to soon follow and reunite with one another once again. After a harrowing journey, Joe eventually lands in Brooklyn where he is taken in by his aunt and his cousin, Sammy Klayman. Thus begins a new adventure into the world of comic books as the two pair up to realize a dream – that of producing their own comic book hero, The Escapist. The Escapist takes on the role of single-handedly challenging the Nazis in order to rid the world of this evil once and for all. Never once does Joe forget his own heart’s desire – to rescue his family from the terror that is seeping into Europe. There is much that I liked about this book. The budding friendship between the two cousins, Joe and Sammy, is nothing short of heartwarming. The historical pieces are engaging and informative. I loved the adventurous bits – Joe’s escape from Prague, some nail-biting scenes involving small-scale terrorism, a formidable venture into the lonely and treacherous landscape of Antarctica, as well as Joe’s various magic performances and displays of escape. I genuinely cared what happened to each character in this novel. Even the world of comic books didn’t turn me off… at least not right away. I enjoyed learning about the creative process and this unique form of art. The world of comic book publishers, editors and marketing was interesting. Then, it became too much for me. I would start to lose interest as the narrative would jump from the real life story of Joe and Sammy to that of their comic book characters. I was never a big fan of comic books; as a child, only occasionally would I sit in front of the television to see which villains Wonderwoman or Superman or even the Wonder Twins were busy fighting for our sake. When my husband tunes into an episode of The Flash or Supergirl, I slightly cringe and remove myself from the room with book in hand. That is sort of how I felt for parts of this book... just get me out of this and into another book for a bit. But then, Chabon would thankfully switch gears and I was fully immersed once again. I was able to quickly savor the last quarter or so of this book and enjoyed the introduction of Tommy into the story. The ending was quite fitting, in my opinion. To be honest, I have been putting off writing this review simply because I really don’t want to criticize the incredible feat that this author has accomplished with this book. I recognize his talent, his love for the comics and for his characters. The writing, when I was engaged, was superb. However, I felt I needed to express my personal hesitation with this book and explain why it took me so gosh darn long to get through it! Don’t write this one off – it’s definitely a worthy book. You will just need to decide what works for you and your personal reading taste before you commit yourself to this fairly lengthy read. I would most certainly like to try another Chabon novel (this was my first), and welcome any suggestions!

  12. 5 out of 5

    W

    "Absolutely, gosh ,wow" (cover quip) on his sentences? Yes, very yes. Chabon can flat out compose sentences. Think Dickens, Pynchon, Tolstoy. But that's it. You keep waiting for the sentences to compile some meaning but they never seem to achieve any depth. He uses the backdrop of the comic book heydays, WWII, and magic acts, his neither here nor there Jewish-ness, to stitch together an overly long book that basically explores the relationship between two male characters who are caricatures them "Absolutely, gosh ,wow" (cover quip) on his sentences? Yes, very yes. Chabon can flat out compose sentences. Think Dickens, Pynchon, Tolstoy. But that's it. You keep waiting for the sentences to compile some meaning but they never seem to achieve any depth. He uses the backdrop of the comic book heydays, WWII, and magic acts, his neither here nor there Jewish-ness, to stitch together an overly long book that basically explores the relationship between two male characters who are caricatures themselves. And, frankly, even those relationships--friendships and sexual identities-- I do not see develop. They are more like "Mr. In and Mr. Out" in Fitzgerald's whimsical short story. A Jungian analysis holds that all the people in your dreams are simply fractions of your own persona. Two sides of the same persona. The dance is in his head. A gifted writer, a fascinating mind, needs a deeper theme. This is not DeLillo. I found his brilliance frustrating, getting constantly lost in the wonderful sentences and not ever finding myself in the forest of the story. He is a gifted researcher as well, and shares everything he learns about a wide spectrum but again, all seems mere convenience for the flow of words that magically cascade, effusively blossom, out of each new idea, as if the primordial stew of vowels and consonants impulsively births new cranial cognitions that the author’s creative ether must spontaneously, irrepressibly deliver to his delighted and by now addicted, but too addled readers. I don’t get this Pulitzer, but then I find most Pulitzers stilted, safe, reliable good prosey. I hope Chabon finds a theme worthy of his words. He should re-read page 286 and make his own decision between art and money. I find in the postmodern, good writers wreak havoc among real lives in order to construct a profitable memoir. Real people ought not to be autopsied alive for the sake of an extended fiction.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I really wanted to like this book. It was recommended by friends, it’s about comic books, it has that gold Pulitzer sticker on the cover. What could go wrong? It started out great; it combined humor, pathos, adventure and a look into the creative process. Like a huge splash, the initial energy created eventually dissipated. The humor became forced, the situations that Chabon put his characters in brought on the head shaking and eye rolling that usually accompanies the transition from the real to I really wanted to like this book. It was recommended by friends, it’s about comic books, it has that gold Pulitzer sticker on the cover. What could go wrong? It started out great; it combined humor, pathos, adventure and a look into the creative process. Like a huge splash, the initial energy created eventually dissipated. The humor became forced, the situations that Chabon put his characters in brought on the head shaking and eye rolling that usually accompanies the transition from the real to the surreal and by two thirds of the way through this book it became a slog and I began to just not care about any of it and my thoughts turned to Skyrim or Fallout New Vegas. I like historical fiction, so I did enjoy the name dropping and the ability Chabon has in re-creating the look and feel of the times, but it just wasn’t enough to push this book beyond three stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I hated this book. For me the characters were not only unlikeable but lifeless. The whole thing was contrived and pretentious and painful to read from start to finish. I am dumbfounded by people's enthusiasm for this book. Dumbfounded.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sentimental Surrealist

    Rumor has it that Chabon originally wanted to call this "the Pretty Good, Amazing at the Beginning but Considerably Less Interesting as Our Heroes Devolve Into Cartoon Caricatures and the Reader's Suspension of Disbelief Vanishes Entirely (Not to Mention the Wonky Prose), So in Short, Overlong, At First Pretty Cool but Then Poorly Characterized, and Unevenly Written Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," but the publishing companies vetoed it, so "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" it is.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I read this book a couple of years ago because it has been hyped up for years, here are a few of my observations: - I found this in the Young Adult section of my Library, but I would not classify this as Young Adult at all. It makes me wonder how they determine that. - I would say that I am fifty-fifty on the hype. It was an interesting story, but not totally enthralling to me. At points it drug on a bit. But, definite points for being unique! - Overall assessment. Decent, but would I recommend it? I read this book a couple of years ago because it has been hyped up for years, here are a few of my observations: - I found this in the Young Adult section of my Library, but I would not classify this as Young Adult at all. It makes me wonder how they determine that. - I would say that I am fifty-fifty on the hype. It was an interesting story, but not totally enthralling to me. At points it drug on a bit. But, definite points for being unique! - Overall assessment. Decent, but would I recommend it? Maybe leaning towards probably not. Since it is such a different type of story, I am not even sure what I could compare it to to try and make a recommendation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I was already a big fan of Chabon with The Yiddish Policemen's Union and later, wonderfully, with Wonder Boys. So of course I had to pick up the official "classic" he made a name for himself with! Tour-de-Force, epic traditional fiction, a whirlwind of blah blah blah. :) In reality, it really is an awesomely well-rounded character novel set very firmly in the early comics industry and it made the giddy fan-boy in me go all blubbery. :) It was very nice. The second best part of the text was the abs I was already a big fan of Chabon with The Yiddish Policemen's Union and later, wonderfully, with Wonder Boys. So of course I had to pick up the official "classic" he made a name for himself with! Tour-de-Force, epic traditional fiction, a whirlwind of blah blah blah. :) In reality, it really is an awesomely well-rounded character novel set very firmly in the early comics industry and it made the giddy fan-boy in me go all blubbery. :) It was very nice. The second best part of the text was the absolutely deep drill down in the characters and the time and places, from before WWII, the social mixes and prejudices and pressures, the boom of the comics industry and how it affected the war, and especially Kavalier's own little crusade to get his Jewish family out of Germany's hands. It really affected the comics, as you may guess. But later on, even after joining the war and building families, it's even better because of Rosa. :) Clay was really a rather breakout character, being gay. We still have to place him in his time and place though. I really laughed loudly when he was asked in the senate committee about the reason why Batman had an underage kid prancing around in tights in his underground dungeon. Public Morals, indeed! :) All told, I'm very satisfied with this novel. It has a little bit of something for everyone and best yet, it's supremely crafted and beautiful. :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Good, but I did not love it. Nice theming with creating life from clay, and escaping, but I did not find the characters engaging enough. Good payload on early days of comics. .

  19. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Gold

    This was so close to being my favorite book of all time but it just couldn't dethrone A Confederacy of Dunces. Before anyone gets confused, these two books are nothing alike so don't think I'm comparing them. Anyway, the story of Kavalier and Clay is one of family, loss, and self-discovery. Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are comic artists in New York City before, during, and after American involvement in World War 2. The story of Kavalier feels more tied to reality. Throughout the book, he is just l This was so close to being my favorite book of all time but it just couldn't dethrone A Confederacy of Dunces. Before anyone gets confused, these two books are nothing alike so don't think I'm comparing them. Anyway, the story of Kavalier and Clay is one of family, loss, and self-discovery. Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are comic artists in New York City before, during, and after American involvement in World War 2. The story of Kavalier feels more tied to reality. Throughout the book, he is just looking for something tangible to give his anger and frustrations an outlet. He feels guilt for being the only member of his family to escape Czechoslovakia and escape the Nazis. His success in America furthers that guilt because it should be something he shares with his family and can't even fight them as an American until Pearl Harbor. His partner and cousin, Sam, on the other hand, supports Kavalier's fight but never feels the same burden as Joe who is not just trying to fight for and save the Jewish people, but specifically his family. It's a whirlwind of emotions and well worth the read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is amazing. Well, some of it is. To be specific I found it fairly amazing up until about page 429. Then it got slightly less amazing which was sad really because, prior to that it was zipping along so nicely like Superman with a new stream-lined cape sliding in and out of the slip stream. After page 429 it became a bit more like Superman trying to erratically jump over tall buildings with Dr Octopus tied to one leg and the Juggernaut tied to the other. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is amazing. Well, some of it is. To be specific I found it fairly amazing up until about page 429. Then it got slightly less amazing which was sad really because, prior to that it was zipping along so nicely like Superman with a new stream-lined cape sliding in and out of the slip stream. After page 429 it became a bit more like Superman trying to erratically jump over tall buildings with Dr Octopus tied to one leg and the Juggernaut tied to the other. You just know that weighty baggage like that is going to slow our hero down and make him a lot less agile and graceful. Yes, yes, before people write in and complain I know they're not all from the same comic book stable... it's just a metaphor alright? The book starts off light and agile. The prose is nimble and immediately I was engrossed which was great because this was a spur of the moment purchase which had to see me through a long day of waiting for builders to decide to do nothing for a very large part of it (now you see how I get so much reading time in!) Cousins Kavalier and Clay are thrown together by a secret transatlantic crossing where Joe Kavalier escapes from Prague, the Nazis and certain death. His first introduction to his cousin, the redoubtable Sammy Clay is when they are forced to share a bed together. Not the most conventional of first meetings for those who wind up being business partners, although maybe this is how it goes on Wall Street and I am just ignorant of the fact. It quickly becomes apparent that Joe's talent for drawing and Sammy's quick-fire pulp fiction brain are together the most unstoppable comic strip writing duo that American has ever seen. And so that's what they do. Write comic books. With the Nazis invading most of Europe and implementing their programme of anti-semitism the backdrop to the entire book is the havoc wreaked by war in the Old World while America gamely attempts to negotiate a political minefield without having to immediately send itself into the fray. The tactful negotiation even extends itself as far as the mild censorship of comic book content. The comic books and their heroes represent not only a decent wage and but a shift towards the American dream for Kavalier and Clay who quickly find that with fame comes responsibility. A conduit for the anti-Hitler message the Kavlier and Clay hero "The Escapist" represents a force for good but is also symbolic of Joe's escape from Europe. The shiny potential for happiness created by Kavalier and Clay quickly becoming the embodiment of the 1930s American dream was great but obviously, like life, things can't always be great for long and this is when the book began to take a bit of a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet style nose dive. Still I stuck with it till the end like a faithful sidekick should and was rewarded with the tying off of a few loose ends and one last act of escapology, albeit an emotional rather than physical one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Laughing....I think this is about the 3rd time -my review has disappeared for this book. I read Michael's book when it was first released. I didn't move for days --its one of the most engaging -exciting fun books I've ever read. There aren't other books that one can compare this too. The characters are to love.......... "Rosa" is still a girl after my own heart! Read Violet's review --Its not often she writes an 'elyse' review (its a joke) -- you know... 5 stars!!!!!!!!!!!! (she doesn't dish them o Laughing....I think this is about the 3rd time -my review has disappeared for this book. I read Michael's book when it was first released. I didn't move for days --its one of the most engaging -exciting fun books I've ever read. There aren't other books that one can compare this too. The characters are to love.......... "Rosa" is still a girl after my own heart! Read Violet's review --Its not often she writes an 'elyse' review (its a joke) -- you know... 5 stars!!!!!!!!!!!! (she doesn't dish them out as easy as I do). To 'not' read this book --where I come from --would be to ask forgiveness during Yom Kippur. No problem --always time to repent. The book is not out of print, yet! :) Pure enjoyment. The characters alone will be little friends inside your head ---'forever'!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Chabon definately deserved the Pulitzer for this one. I have read several of his books, but this is the only one I've read twice,and I could read it again. I bought the hardback. Love the dust jacket. I bought the paperback, love the artwork on it,and then much to my dismay....they have reissued it again with another fantastic artwork on the cover,and I am like....do I buy that one too? I've given it as a gift before. Thinking I might get a copy for my oldest son,and maybe print it on my printer Chabon definately deserved the Pulitzer for this one. I have read several of his books, but this is the only one I've read twice,and I could read it again. I bought the hardback. Love the dust jacket. I bought the paperback, love the artwork on it,and then much to my dismay....they have reissued it again with another fantastic artwork on the cover,and I am like....do I buy that one too? I've given it as a gift before. Thinking I might get a copy for my oldest son,and maybe print it on my printer....... is that illegal? Ha! Anyway.......this is by far Chabon's best and most engaging book. The others are great, I grant you that. I think the biggest draw for me is I loved comic books when I was a kid,and so did my oldest son. He still reads them,and purchases them , as an adult...so truly he needs a paper copy of this one.... the history of the comics,and the banning of them due to what many felt was pornography, and the history of the war,and the states situation at the time.....it makes for a very heartfelt story of two men trying to find their way in this world. Definately worth the read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    The Superhero Formerly Known as Prince Michael Chabon's post about Prince on Instagram Inspirational "Dearly beloved/We are gathered here today /To get through this thing called life." I was really speeding through this highly enjoyable novel, until I got distracted when Prince died unexpectedly and I became addicted to CNN's coverage of his death. In Prince's 1996 interview with Larry King, he questions the value of artistic categories, and then asked how he defines his own music, he says, it's "ins The Superhero Formerly Known as Prince Michael Chabon's post about Prince on Instagram Inspirational "Dearly beloved/We are gathered here today /To get through this thing called life." I was really speeding through this highly enjoyable novel, until I got distracted when Prince died unexpectedly and I became addicted to CNN's coverage of his death. In Prince's 1996 interview with Larry King, he questions the value of artistic categories, and then asked how he defines his own music, he says, it's "inspirational". Prince's great appeal was how he transcended boundaries, not just musical, but also gender and race. Michael Chabon has concocted something equally inspirational as Prince's music in this novel. "Kavalier & Clay" doesn't purport to be a work of post-modernism or metafiction, but it is concerned with the form of various artworks, especially comic books, the interaction of the script and the panels, and the influence of film on graphic and comic design: "The daring use of perspective and shading, the radical placement of word balloons and captions and, above all, the integration of narrative and picture by means of artfully disarranged, dislocated panels that stretched, shrank, opened into circles, spread across two pages, marched diagonaly toward one corner of a page, unreeled themselves like the frames of a film..." Like Sparks from a Roman Candle Often, the novel reads with the ease of a comic book. There are six parts, most divided into three- to five-page chapters. The prose drives the narrative efficiently and economically, while often pausing to luxuriate in some beautifully-crafted compound sentences: "Chess-boards dissolve, parabolas bend themselves into asterisks, whorls and pinwheels. Mysterious hieroglyphs stream past like sparks from a roman candle." "So much has been written and sung about the bright lights and ballrooms of Empire City - that dazzling town! - about her nightclubs and jazz joints, her avenues of neon and chrome, and her swank hotels, their rooftop tea gardens strung in the summertime with paper lanterns." "An enormous moth rested, papillating its wings with a certain languor like a lady fanning herself, irridescent green with a yellowish undershimmer, as big as that lady's silk clutch." "There is only one sure means in life of ensuring you are not ground into paste by disappointment, futility, and disillusion. And that is always to ensure, to the utmost of your ability, that you are doing it solely for the money." This is a novel that should appeal to readers who appreciate richness of language, narrative and imagination. Drawn to the Borderlands At the same time, its subject matter includes both artistic and social unconventionality and transgression. As Michael Chabon tweeted in tribute to Prince: "I came of age feeling drawn to the borderlands. I felt like I did not belong anywhere except wherever nobody belonged, and that I could not, would never want to be defined except as someone who instinctively rejected definition. "It was exhilarating but it was lonely and confusing. You looked for people who seemed to be walking the tightrope between This and That (or This and Not-This) with grace, confidence, an appearance of fearlessness, a wanton disregard of gravity and physics. "Between "high art" and "pop." Between "black" music and "white" music. Between white and black, straight and gay, male and female, cool and nerdy, genre and mainstream, rooted and uprooted, old school and avant-garde, commercial and arty. Between synth-bass minimalism and a shredding Telecaster solo. Between anyplace they stuck you and everywhere you knew you had the right, and the desire, to be." "Just as Long as We're Together" As with a band, it helps if you find compatible musicians or artists with whom to collaborate on your artistic vision. "In his imaginings, Sammy found that, for the first time in years, he was able to avail himself of the help of a confederate." This is a joint adventure, an exercise in companionship and partnership, like Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon", separated only by an ampersand. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" Two aspects of the plot follow: Kavalier and Clay, both twenty-something Jews, have lost their fathers, and embrace the fantasy world of super-heroism by way of remedy. Sammy also dabbles in homosexuality, although he turns out to be more bisexual in nature (he fears being called a "fairy"): "Sammy had been in love with men nearly all his life, from his father to Nikola Tesla to John Garfield, whose snarl of derision echoed so clearly in his imagination, taunting Sammy: 'Hey, pretty boy, who's your boyfriend?' " "Sammy still refused to admit to himself - at that irrelevant, senatorial level of consciousness where the questions that desire has already answered are proposed and debated and tabled till later - that he was in love, or falling in love, with Tracy Bacon." "It really did seem to be reciprocated. And these blossomings of desire, these entanglings of their fingers, these four nourishing kisses stolen from the overflowing standpipe of New York's indifference, were the inevitable product of that reciprocity. But did that mean that he, or Bacon, was a homosexual? Did that make Tracy Bacon Sammy's boyfriend?" "Regardless of what he felt for Bacon, it was not worth the danger, the shame, the risk of arrest and opprobrium." Joe is sceptical about the sincerity of Sammy's homosexuality. He thinks of it as a "brief experiment in bohemian rebellion": "To the small extent that he had ever given the matter any thought at all, Joe had assumed that Sammy's youthful flirtation with homosexuality had been just that, a freak dalliance born of some combination of exuberance and loneliness that had died abruptly." "Rave un2 the Jew Fantastic" Michael Chabon dances elegantly around the issue of whether comics are a form of escapism, particularly for young boys. The name of Kavalier and Clay's superhero is "The Escapist", a tribute to Joe's background as a magician and escape artist in the manner of Houdini. He also escaped the Holocaust by hiding in a coffin containing the Golem of Prague when it was sent out of the country for safety reasons. He originally thought of himself as an "Ausbrecher" or "Outbreaker". Thus, he's able to break out and cross over borders or boundaries. This anticipates Chabon's comment about being "drawn to the Borderlands". He's interested in transgression, including the perceived transgression of homosexuality. Transgression of any type involves risk-taking: "Forget about what you are escaping from. Reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to." "Take care - there is no force more powerful than that of an unbridled imagination." "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" For all the sympathy for the transgressor, Chabon respects the heroic ability of his characters to build a nurturing family life for their child, Tommy, different from what they themselves had experienced (even if it means living in the 'burbs): "Sammy wondered if the indifference that he had attributed to his own father was, after all, not the peculiar trait of one man but a universal characteristic of fathers. Maybe the 'youthful wards' that he routinely assigned to his heroes...represented the expression not of a flaw in his nature but of a deeper and more universal wish..." "Sammy had resolved never to let Tommy feel abandoned, never to walk out on him, and until now, until tonight, he had managed to keep the promise..." Sammy and Rosie Get Laid Tommy's mother is Rosa Saks, also an artist, whom Sammy encourages to draw "a comic book for dollies" and becomes commercially successful in her own right. She was originally Joe's lover before he left to join the armed forces and seek revenge against the Germans for wiping out his family in the Holocaust. "Let's Pretend We're Married" Sammy marries Rosa, who unbeknown to Joe is pregnant with his son, Tommy. Sammy proceeds to be a good father to him, thus breaking the line or circle of missing fathers. Chabon's style morphs as his subject matter changes. At times, it reminded me of Saul Bellow, other times of adventure writers like John Buchan and Alastair McLean. He also writes the best party scene (which features Salvador Dali in a deep-sea diving suit) since William Gaddis' "The Recognitions". "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold" Even if some of the scenes are of less substantive interest than others, Chabon writes with a kaleidoscopic vitality, as if the only valid response to Hitler and the Holocaust is the creation of a vivid language experience. Joe and Sammy together invent a Jewish superhero who redresses the real world powerlessness of the European Jews: "Joe's work also articulated the simple joy of unfettered movement, of the able body, in a way that captured the yearnings not only of his crippled cousin but of an entire generation of weaklings, stumblebums and playground goats." "The Escapist" is not just a vehicle for passive escapism, it's an assertion of freedom, independence and dynamism. It's a vehicle for personal, artistic and commercial liberation. While they start as virtual slaves for Empire Comics, Joe eventually makes enough money to buy the company, in the same way that Prince fought to buy back his master tapes. Art (particularly popular art), like life, has a tendency to be ephemeral. The Golden Age of American comic books barely survived the war, challenged by television, westerns, true and fictitious crime, and romance. Buying the rights is a way to gain control, even if it doesn't guarantee continued popularity or financial security. Chabon's novel reminds us of the fragility of creativity and the imagination, the ability to construct not just a culture, but a family, a people and a society. Chabon writes and fights bravely against the disappearance of the past, the present and the future: "The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diana D

    След всички драматични книги, които прочетох досега, имах нужда от нещо необременяващо, свежо и същевременно задълбочено. И го получих от Шейбон с  " Невероятните приключения на Кавалиър и Клей". Останах очарована, меко казано. Описателният стил на Шейбон ме заплени. Радвам се, че разчупих стереотипа си чрез тази книга. Бях малко резервирана, заради очакванията ми, че ще се доближава до комикс, но няма нищо общо с това, само бегла препратка. По- точно, комиксите и рекламата в книгата са един вид След всички драматични книги, които прочетох досега, имах нужда от нещо необременяващо, свежо и същевременно задълбочено. И го получих от Шейбон с  " Невероятните приключения на Кавалиър и Клей". Останах очарована, меко казано. Описателният стил на Шейбон ме заплени. Радвам се, че разчупих стереотипа си чрез тази книга. Бях малко резервирана, заради очакванията ми, че ще се доближава до комикс, но няма нищо общо с това, само бегла препратка. По- точно, комиксите и рекламата в книгата са един вид свързочно звено, спойка, между останалите истории, в които има изключителна дълбочина на преживяванията и взаимоотношенията. Романът е мащабен. Обхваща както сърцето на старинна Европа в лицето на Прага, така и Новия Свят. Приключенията започват от Чехия, през 30-те години, където нацизма е пуснал своите пипала. Кавалир( по американскому- Кавалиър) е от еврейско потекло и родителите му правят всичко по силите си, за да му помогнат да избяга при роднините си в Америка. Младият Йозеф има много силно присъствие в историята и е изправен пред множество предизвикателства. Той е обучен в магическото изкуство на Худини, а освен това прави впечатляващи рисунки с лекота. Така, Кавалиър, се отправя към Новия свят, воден от две основни цели- да се реализира в Щатите като илюстратор на новата хитова вълна в Америка- комиксите, и да издърпа близките си при себе си. Заедно с братовчед си Сам Клей, който също има афинитет към рисуването, се сработват перфектно и наред със силните взаимоотношения, които се изграждат между тях, те поставят началото и на нова рекламно- комиксова реализация, която носи хем "чертите" на известния Супермен, хем нещо абсолютно оригинално и разпознаваемо. Така се заражда техният герой Ескапистът и концепцията Ескапизъм( в превод- измъкване, бягство), което е залегнало дълбоко не само в него, но и в самите Сам и Джо( Йозеф). " Хората забелязват само онова, което им кажеш да видят. При това, само ако им напомниш, че трябва да го направят." Ескаписта е героят, който помага на всички угнетени и потиснати, да се освободят от оковите на своето физическо и духовно робство. " Не позволявай слабостта на тялото да бъде слабост на душата ти." Идеята се основава на илюзорното изкуство, което Кавалиър носи в себе си, която по- късно се доразвива в посланието, че колкото повече бягаш от миналото толкова по- неясно е докъде ще стигнеш; просто трябва да дадеш максимума от себе си, да положиш усилия, без да се опитваш да избягаш от същността си, а напротив- да се съградиш наново, в едно по- съвършено Аз. " Забрави за онова, от което се измъкваш. Запази опасенията си за онова, към което бягаш. " Сам и Джо са пример за реализация на Американската мечта- започват от нищото и постигат своите собствени върхове. Взаимодействието между братовчедите е толкова силно, спойката помежду им е така здрава, че в един момент усещането за тях е, че са като две страни на една и съща монета. Историята не следва някаква строга хронологична последователност. Шейбон ни показва различни парченца, които след това сглобява в една голяма, зрелищна и завършена картина. " Невероятните приключения на Кавалиър и Клей" е едно голямо покоряващо преживяване. Шейбон е виртуоз, езикът му е описателен и жив, а способността му да увлича в картините, които изгражда, е завладяваща. Голям принос за това има и впечатляващият превод. ==== " Знаем, че когато сърцето ни е разбито, то покрива белега с неразрушима тъкан, която му пречи отново да бъде наранено на същото място." " Внимавай, защото няма по- голяма мощ от тази на необузданото въображение." " Истинска загадка, достойна за най- добрия психиатър, е това, че човешкият живот може да бъде изцяло лишен от надежда и същевременно да е изпълнен до пръсване с нея. " " Истинският гений никога не намира призвание в своето време. "

  25. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Sumi

    The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is a great American novel about two cousins whose talents, fevered dreams and crazy obsessions make them legends during the Golden Era of comic books. Magician-in-training Josef Kavalier escapes Czechoslovakia in 1939 and is taken in by his aunt and his scrappy cousin Sammy Klayman, who live in Brooklyn. Joe hopes his parents and younger brother Thomas will eventually join him, but as the Nazis gain power, the noose, of course, tightens on Europe’s J The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is a great American novel about two cousins whose talents, fevered dreams and crazy obsessions make them legends during the Golden Era of comic books. Magician-in-training Josef Kavalier escapes Czechoslovakia in 1939 and is taken in by his aunt and his scrappy cousin Sammy Klayman, who live in Brooklyn. Joe hopes his parents and younger brother Thomas will eventually join him, but as the Nazis gain power, the noose, of course, tightens on Europe’s Jews. Sammy, meanwhile, has his own issues, including the bitter memory of his estranged dad – a former vaudevillian strong man – and his burgeoning sexuality. Both boys find emotional and artistic escape through creating a comic book superhero called The Escapist, who comes to the rescue of people in need around the world. (One controversial cover shows him slugging Hitler.) Those are just some of the themes and narrative strands of this big, bold, exuberant novel, which spans decades and continents and lasts some 650 pages. (Don’t worry: it’s a page-turner.) The book’s not without its shortcomings. The third figure in the book’s triangle – a woman named Rosa Saks – isn't as carefully etched as the other two. And the occasional use of real-life figures (Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Eleanor Roosevelt) isn't as gracefully done as it is in, say, E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, the obvious comparison. But Chabon’s prose, befitting his colourful subject and era, is entertaining and visceral. It simply soars. There’s also lots of information about the history of comic books. Chabon’s done his research and obviously loves the genre. And there are several memorable scenes(view spoiler)[: the elaborate moving of a coffin (with someone inside it!); an attempted bombing of a bar mitzvah; a very moving look at immigrants arriving from Ellis Island (hide spoiler)] . This is a book whose world is so expansive and imaginatively realized that I can't give it anything but five great big gleaming stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    lorinbocol

    d'artagnan ora si fa chiamare joe. e non entra nel proprio futuro in sella a un ronzino, ma in treno e in nave dopo una fuga rocambolesca dalla praga occupata fino a new york, attraverso lituania, giappone e san francisco, per non privarsi proprio di nulla. anche qui avrà gloria e amore, sarà intemperante, guascone e idealista e non terrà mai del tutto a bada la propria ribalderia. e poi ci sono altri giovani moschettieri (uno importante, per il resto gregari) e con qualche aggiustamento un capi d'artagnan ora si fa chiamare joe. e non entra nel proprio futuro in sella a un ronzino, ma in treno e in nave dopo una fuga rocambolesca dalla praga occupata fino a new york, attraverso lituania, giappone e san francisco, per non privarsi proprio di nulla. anche qui avrà gloria e amore, sarà intemperante, guascone e idealista e non terrà mai del tutto a bada la propria ribalderia. e poi ci sono altri giovani moschettieri (uno importante, per il resto gregari) e con qualche aggiustamento un capitano de tréville e un richelieu che lavora nell'ombra. le fantastiche avventure di kavalier e clay è sotto tutti i punti di vista un feuilleton contemporaneo. e come un feuilleton appassiona, galvanizza, deborda e rompe a buon diritto ogni unità di tempo-luogo-azione. ma per contro, come un feuilleton è sufficientemente furbo da saper dove acchiappare le nostre emozioni, e a tratti può avere dei cali di tono prima di farci arrivare in stazione. per dire. ho patito qua e là un eccesso di retorica (la natura di feuilleton comporta l'estinzione del reato specifico, lo so, ma leggendo non ho potuto comunque fare a meno di prenderne atto) e ho trovato talvolta un po' maldestre le parti in cui viene dato spazio all'omosessualità (intuita, conclamata, rifiutata, conciliata) di uno dei protagonisti, sam. eccesso un po' trasversale di enfasi, ecco. strettamente stilistica è anche l'unica altra critica che muovo alla scrittura altrimenti pregevolissima di chabon, a cui evidentemente piacciono le metafore gustativ/olfattive. dalle ascelle della moglie di salvador dalì che sanno di semi di finocchio, alla lingua della ragazza di joe, che al primo bacio ha sapor di latte e sale e gli fa l'effetto di avere in bocca un'ostrica. fino alle di lui labbra che, viceversa, per la fanciulla hanno un sapore "tra l'acero il fumo" (e questa me la ricordo bene perché prima di pensare allo sciroppo mi sono stupidamente chiesta se chabon fosse uso andare in giro a leccare cortecce di latifoglie). insomma, per stringere, galeotte furono una volta di troppo la sinestesia e la seduzione papillare. ma è poca roba, a fronte di una scorribanda con michael alexandre davy de la pailleterie chabon dumas. leggete questo libro!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katja

    This book might eventually merit a new shelf: stuff I keep trying to read and put aside because while they are good and everyone raves about them I just jump at the chance to read almost anything else. In terms of writing, scope of imagination, and peregrinations of plot, completely deserving of its Pulitzer, but there's a self-congratulatory facility, a "look how I make a marginalized hobby into an academic metaphor for life and growing up in America and I TALK ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST TOO" feeling This book might eventually merit a new shelf: stuff I keep trying to read and put aside because while they are good and everyone raves about them I just jump at the chance to read almost anything else. In terms of writing, scope of imagination, and peregrinations of plot, completely deserving of its Pulitzer, but there's a self-congratulatory facility, a "look how I make a marginalized hobby into an academic metaphor for life and growing up in America and I TALK ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST TOO" feeling to Chabon's graphic-novel-sans-graphics. Maybe I've overdosed on hard luck tales of young boys with improbable dreams growing up in America smack dab in the midst of the twentieth century. Recent years have produced enough that they merit their own name: subway novels. They're the ones you can be guaranteed to see at least one person on your car reading every time you commute for about three to six months after they hit the bestseller list, or are reviewed on Oprah's book club or listed as some young but socially conscious actor's favourite in Entertainment weekly. Everyone reads them, reccommends them to friends, and has a paperback copy lying around somewhere. For about a year. And then, other than being referenced on an extraordinary number of Internet networking sites in the little box for "favourite books", they sort of fade out of the cultural lexicon. Does popularity make them any less well written? No. But I can't muster the standard level of enthusiasm for most of them because I don't think it makes them any better written than a great many other books that missed the spin train, and happen to feature someone other than a scrappy but troubled New York boy with Eastern European parents who lusts after some idealized woman or man cultural cut-out with all the personality of a box of crackers. Middlesex also falls in to this category, and, in a sub-section, Everything is Illuminated.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabonis such a wonderful book that I was sorry to finish it. I read as slowly as I could, savoring the words, the characters, and the story, but sadly I finally finished it. Joe Kavalier is a Jewish refugee from Prague who dreams of bringing his family to America and saving them from Hitler. He is also a trained escape artist, in the tradition of Houdini (also Jewish). He lives with his cousin, Sammy Clay, in Brooklyn. Together (with Sammy The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabonis such a wonderful book that I was sorry to finish it. I read as slowly as I could, savoring the words, the characters, and the story, but sadly I finally finished it. Joe Kavalier is a Jewish refugee from Prague who dreams of bringing his family to America and saving them from Hitler. He is also a trained escape artist, in the tradition of Houdini (also Jewish). He lives with his cousin, Sammy Clay, in Brooklyn. Together (with Sammy as the idea man and Joe as the artist) they begin creating a comic books series, aptly titled "The Escape Artist." Comic books are a new art (?) form in the 1930s and they pitch their idea to their employer, a businessman specializing in novelty items. The series is a huge success but Sammy and Joe reap only a small percentage of the rewards. What follows is a history of comic books in the United States, the Holocaust and World War II, into the 1950s with its paranoia and American dream suburbs. And at the heart of it is love-sexual and family. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a richly satisfying book on many levels. Chabon is a formidable writer and he transported me into his world in a way that rarely happens for me since I've grown up. I hope if you haven't yet read it, you will do yourself the favor of reading it soon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    Originally posted in In Lesbian with Books WOW! To tell you the truth, I tried reading this book earlier last year (around March—I was supposed to bring this with me to Singapore but settled with The Eyre Affair instead) but I gave up after 3 chapters. I was having hard time adjusting to Chabon's narrative (I think he overused the comma or maybe that's just me). I don't know how I will start my thoughts about this book because I don't want to start gushing about how great his book is, but really, Originally posted in In Lesbian with Books WOW! To tell you the truth, I tried reading this book earlier last year (around March—I was supposed to bring this with me to Singapore but settled with The Eyre Affair instead) but I gave up after 3 chapters. I was having hard time adjusting to Chabon's narrative (I think he overused the comma or maybe that's just me). I don't know how I will start my thoughts about this book because I don't want to start gushing about how great his book is, but really, this book is really amazing. I can't stop thinking about this book, Joe Kavalier, Sammy Clay, and comic books. I'm having a fiction lag. I'm having a book hang-over. I felt like I was living in the world of Kavalier & Clay and I don't want to leave it. I mean, I love comic books. I love masked superheroes. Even if I wasn't a comic reader (DC/Marvel) when I was a kid, I was obsessed playing with DC, CapCom, and Marvel superheroes in Playstation 1/2. (I'm totally in lesbians with Morrigan Aensland). This book is really an adventure for me compared to other books who have a word "adventure" on their titles but doesn't live up to its title, and it talks about comic books. This book is about two guys, a Czech artist from Prague named Josef Kavalier and a writer from Brooklyn named Sam Klayman. They're actually cousins and they are aspiring artists. Sammy was a big reader of comics that time (during 1930s, comics are pretty new) and he encouraged Josef to draw comic books. In the earlier part of the story, Josef (or Joe) was trained to be an escape artist by his teacher, Kornblum, and was able to escape to America all the way from Prague during the World War II. It's just amazing how talented this Joe Kavalier is. (My heart aches for him. Too bad, he doesn't exist in real life!). Also, with Sammy, I can feel their passion about creating comic books. What I like about this book is that Chabon paralleled the story with the creation and history of comics—during the WWII, the Golden Age, and the Dark Age. See, during that WWII, the Americans are searching for something that will take them away from the reality that is the war and their need of someone who will save them. Masked superheroes became a hit to them during the 1930s and that was the time Sam and Joe created their brainchild, the Escapist. Inspired by Houdini (and Kornblum), the Escapist (or Tom Mayflower/League of the Golden Key)'s main purpose is to fight tyranny and free the oppressed. It is said to be a reflection of Sam and Joe's escape from their past (well, more of Joe's because he wants to kill some Nazis using the Escapist to avenge his family left in Prague). The Escapist became popular that time along with Superman. Since they were noob in the industry, they were slow to realize that they were being exploited by their employer, Empire Comics/Sheldon Anapolis. They continue to create comics such as The RadioMan and Luna Moth. (Okay, this book has too much adventures I can't write them all here). My favorite part of the book is about Joe Kavalier's escape from Prague and all his training to be an escape artist and a magician. I very much want to be like one! It looks so cool when you can entertain people just for the fun of it. I think this book really deserved the Pulitzer Prize it won and also because Chabon's way of describing comic books into words? Man, this guy is a genius. He even incorporated significant people, events, and history in the story! (Which made the book feel like it's REAL, that I must find the real Joe Kavalier and marry him... oh dear, here we go again.) I should get his other books and read them. (I can't call myself a Chabon fan when I only read one book!) It makes me sad that I finished this book. I wish Chabon continued writing Joe and Sammy's stories (especially Sammy's! I'm curious what happened to Sammy after deciding to be a—SPOILER—fairy). I think if Chabon continued writing their stories, I will never ever get tired of them. Comic Book Fact #1: During the Dark Ages, a psychiatrist (or maybe a psycho) named Dr. Frederick Wertham accused comic books to have violent effect on American teenage/children readers that caused an increase in juvenile crimes in America. He even wrote a book, Seduction of the Innocent, saying that comic books are dangerous to be read by children, which led to comic book burning, inquiry of the US Congress, Senate hearings, and the creation of Comics Code. Comic Book Fact #2: See the real Joe Kavalier & Sam Clay in the comic industry! Comic Book Fact #3: the Escapist series is real. Chabon, why are you so cool? Comic Book Face #4: I wrote about comic book history a year ago for a client overseas (so if you find it somewhere online under another name, probably that's my client). I enjoyed writing it because the topic is so interesting. You can read it here. I'm shamelessly obsessed with this book and I will soon read the untold stories of Kavalier and Clay and get the copies of the Escapist series. (I don't think I gave the book any justice with this post but I enjoyed talking about it. Let's talk more about it! E-mail me, guys!) Photo (c) Tricia Gervacio, 2012 (Please don't steal my photo. It has no watermark, please credit/e-mail me if you're going to use it. Thanks!)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    When I read books, I try to see the whole picture of what the writer is trying to express, not just words on page after page of text. This book is one of the ones you just have to do that and then spend some time pondering the message that it has. The Escapist story is one that I believe we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. We tend to think we can somehow "escape" our troubles by either physically leaving a bothersome situation or changing our circumstances. The Amazing Adve When I read books, I try to see the whole picture of what the writer is trying to express, not just words on page after page of text. This book is one of the ones you just have to do that and then spend some time pondering the message that it has. The Escapist story is one that I believe we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. We tend to think we can somehow "escape" our troubles by either physically leaving a bothersome situation or changing our circumstances. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay illustrates the Escapist in all of us by telling the story of Kavalier leaving his homeland to begin a new life in America, with his hopes and dreams of reuniting with the family he left behind in Prague. His cousin, Sammy Clay, also has secrets that he is keeping from himself and others and finally comes to terms with them and gains perspective. I don't want to give too much away from the story; you would just have to read it for yourself.

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