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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 19, 2000
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But Joe Kavalier is driven by motives far more complex than your average hack. In fact, his first act as a comic-book artist is to deal Hitler a very literal blow. (The cover of the first issue shows the Escapist delivering "an immortal haymaker" onto the Führer's realistically bloody jaw.) In subsequent years, the Escapist and his superhero allies take on the evil Iron Chain and their leader Attila Haxoff--their battles drawn with an intensity that grows more disturbing as Joe's efforts to rescue his family fail. He's fighting their war with brush and ink, Joe thinks, and the idea sustains him long enough to meet the beautiful Rosa Saks, a surrealist artist and surprisingly retrograde muse. But when even that fiction fails him, Joe performs an escape of his own, leaving Rosa and Sammy to pick up the pieces in some increasingly wrong-headed ways.
More amazing adventures follow--but reader, why spoil the fun? Suffice to say, Michael Chabon writes novels like the Escapist busts locks. Previous books such as The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys have prose of equal shimmer and wit, and yet here he seems to have finally found a canvas big enough for his gifts. The whole enterprise seems animated by love: for his alternately deluded, damaged, and painfully sincere characters; for the quirks and curious innocence of tough-talking wartime New York; and, above all, for comics themselves, "the inspirations and lucubrations of five hundred aging boys dreaming as hard as they could." Far from negating such pleasures, the Holocaust's presence in the novel only makes them more pressing. Art, if not capable of actually fighting evil, can at least offer a gesture of defiance and hope--a way out, in other words, of a world gone completely mad. Comic-book critics, Joe notices, dwell on "the pernicious effect, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life." Indeed. --Mary Park
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More About the Author
He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. You can visit Michael online at www.michaelchabon.com
Top Customer Reviews
There's no doubt that Michael Chabon is a master of his craft; his writing is a mix of the matter-of-fact and flights of fantasy, and often reality is granted an additional glow of the magical. His characters are real from the start: Sammy, Joe, Ethel and Kornblum are not talking heads, but characters who are distinct and touching in their fallibility.
Probably the best aspect of this book is where it deals with art, and art and escapism are themes that are tightly woven throughout this story until they become inseparable. At first art is the means to manipulate one's personal reality, as Joe convinces himself that he is fighting the war against the Nazis by having his hero fight them in the comics; and later this idea is carried further, so that art is not only used to manipulate reality, but to escape it utterly; and this is viewed as the ultimate goal of the artist.
Another high point of the novel is its moments in which the blend of art and realism are so seamless that at first it is difficult to tell where reality ends and the art begins. These moments are consistent with the magical atmosphere that marks Kavalier and Clay's "Golden Age," as well as with the theme of art as a means of escape.
The theme of art and its relationship with escapism is the one theme that threads consistently throughout the novel.Read more ›
I was never a great reader of comic books, but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. I could go on and on about the story, but you just have to read the book description for that. It's all there. I would highly recommend this wonderful book if you have the time to read it. You'll find yourself staying up late till you reach the last chapter. What a great movie this would make. I really enjoyed Michael Chabon's other three novels, but I think this is his best yet.
Pretty cheesy, that. But good cheese, no? Actually, the above is just a thinly veiled attempt to usher you into the world of super-hero comic books that Michael Chabon has created for this book. It is a world of convenient coincidences, of nick-of-time rescues, of unbelievable happenstance, and hyper-romanticism. It's a world whose characters are drawn in two tones (black or white), where good and evil combat in epic struggles, and little boys pay ten cents an issue to read about it. It's an entirely made up world, embracing its own fictionality, but one that the reader can easily get lost in. Chabon has written a book that takes the conventions of the comic book and exploits them. If you encounter a situation here that tests the boundaries of reality, try reading it as if spread over six cheerily drawn panels. It'll make much more sense that way.
The reason for this technique, if I may be so bold as to articulate it, is quite simple: Escapism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a beautiful tale with wonderfully realized characters and a great story. Keep your dictionary handy, there is some rich languages in play!Published 4 days ago by calcin
Full disclosure- this book is LONG. If you do better with paper vs. kindle over the long run, keep that in mind when tackling this tome. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Rory Wade-Easley
I kept waiting for something to happen that would help me really care about the characters. It just never clicked for me, though the concept of a novel dealing with the holocaust... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Thomas E. Buchanan
The first third of Kavanaugh and Clay while illustrative is slow. Once the story line picked up there are many themes, but still a slow read to work through the first several... Read morePublished 20 days ago by MDCRABGUY
This book is on my personal top ten list of all time. The writing (prose if you want to be fancy) is superb and the characters are so well described you get a perfect picture of... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Adam
The novel is good in the beginning describing Josef Kavalier's escape from Prague in 1939 as well as Kavalier's and his friend Sammy Clay's breakthrough into creating comic books... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Julia Stein
I loved this book from page 1. Chabon's writing style makes me feel like I am learning while reading, and that makes me feel good. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Shelly
I didn't expect to like this (my husband bought it for me), but I really enjoyed the story. Very well written.Published 1 month ago by Deannab1