Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"

By Michael Chabon
656 pages
Published September 2000

Sam Clay and Joseph Kavalier are cousins. When Joseph smuggles himself out of Prague in 1939, he comes to stay with the Clays. Sam has a dream to write comic books and when he sees the artistic ability of his cousin, he decides it's time to take action. Soon the cousins and a group of artists have spent a weekend developing a whole series of characters and stories and manage to get the ideas published. Soon the group is a huge success, particularly the character The Escapist, inspired by Joseph's own Houdini-esque escape abilities.

Joseph begins a passionate affair with the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will play a part in both Joseph's and Sam's lives. Joseph will deal with his inability to get his family safely out of Czechoslovakia, Sam with his homosexuality and Rosa with an unexpected and untimely pregnancy. But the biggest changes in their lives occur when World War II finally comes to the U. S.

I had previously read Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" and enjoyed it a lot. This one had been highly recommended; many people rate it as Chabon's best work. So my expectations were high. And I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. Chabon again presented me with a completely unique story line and an impressive cast of characters.

One reviewer said that despite some very serious subject matter, the book never loses it's sense of humor. I'm not sure I agree with that assesment. There's a part of the book, when Joseph is stationed in the Artic, that is quite heavy. It does serve an important purpose in the book but it did really pull me out of the sense of the book.

Michael Chabon is simply brilliant when it comes to use of the English language. The New York Times calls this "a novel of towering achievement" and Newsweek says "Chabon has pulled off another great feat." I couldn't agree more and I'm looking forward to picking up more of his work.

13 comments:

  1. I like the plot. I have never read anything by this author.
    I like the cartoon thing too.. overall i should get to this one someday, added this to my wishlist. thank u!

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  2. Sounds like a great book. I have it on my shelf, along with The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I think I need to read them soon - they both sound so engaging and right now I need a book that is a bit more intellectual then my last read. Cheers!

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  3. I started to read this book a few months ago, and it has been incredibly slow going. I'd like to finish it, though, and also read some of Chabon's other works.

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  4. My book group chose this book one month and for whatever reason, I could not get into it. I have this agreement with myself that if it doesn't excite me by page 50, then I say bye bye.

    My book group enjoyed it though.

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  5. This looks good!

    I have an award for you!

    http://gofita.blogspot.com/2009/10/honest-scrap-award-and-others.html

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  6. I liked Yiddish Policeman's Union more than this one, but that's not to say I didn't really like this one! I just thought YPU was tighter, and showed him exercising more discipline over his ideas. I agree with you that his use of the English language is nothing short of inspirational!

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  7. I've never read Chabon, but your review has me thinking I've been missing out!

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  8. Great review and another reason why I need to read this author!

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  9. Hmmmm. Great review. But (and it's a big but) I didn't love Yiddish Policeman's Union. So, would I like this one? I have it sitting here (from before I bought and read YPU actually) but I am still undecided about it.

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  10. glad to hear you liked this one. i love chabon's style. this is my all-time favorite book that incorporates the world of comic books.

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  11. I have really enjoyed all of Chabon's works. I wish he had more out there to read! Kavalier and Clay was probably my favorite although "Wonder Boys" is great! Have you read it? The movie is good too.

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  12. I haven't read any of Chabon's work, I may have to remedy that.

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  13. I've heard good things about this book, and it's on my list of things to read some day. I hope it's okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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