Book Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

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I bought this book.



The Amaz­ing Adven­tures of Kava­lier & Clay” is one of the most remark­able works of fic­tion I have ever read. Even though this story is about the comic book world, there are very few comic / pop ref­er­ences, and none which are required to enjoy the book. This is a big plus because you don't have to be a "fan­boy" in order to enjoy this book.

The story (which, as a fan of comics, reminds me of Super­man cre­ators Joe Schus­ter and Jerry Siegel) is set in the late 30's, just as Super­man is about to burst onto the world and begin the "Golden Age" of comics.

A Pol­ish Jew­ish refugee, Josef Kava­lier, arrives in New York to live with his cousin, Sammy Klay­man. The two cousins hit it off due to their com­mon inter­est in comics, escapol­ogy (which helped Joe escape the Nazis) and their fas­ci­na­tion with the world famous Harry Hou­dini. The two cousins get a job at a nov­elty prod­ucts com­pany which is attempt­ing to break into the comic book indus­try and they make it big with their char­ac­ter "The Escapist", only to be exploited and get min­i­mal mon­e­tary reward.



Joe enlists in the Navy hop­ing to help his fam­ily escape Nazi occu­pied Europe, only to live behind his preg­nant girl­friend. After a self imposed exile, Joe returns only to find his cousin and his for­mer girl­friend mar­ried and rais­ing his child. As each one of the char­ac­ters strug­gles with their iden­tity, they attempt to reunite as a fam­ily as well as get back on top of the comics world.



The book touches on many themes, such as the role Jew­ish writ­ers and artists played in Amer­i­can pop cul­ture (like it or not comics are Amer­i­can mythol­ogy). How­ever, escapism is prob­a­bly the most impor­tant theme, whether it is from Nazi occu­pied Europe or from one of the char­ac­ters sex­ual iden­tity or phys­i­cal weak­ness.


As I said before, the book is fan­tas­tic. The char­ac­ters are engag­ing, three dimen­sional and famil­iar. The story is tragic, funny and inter­est­ing. Michael Chabon moves the story for­ward in a good pace, while con­cen­trat­ing on inter­est­ing ele­ments instead of the mundane.

My rat­ing for The Amaz­ing Adven­tures of Kava­lier & Clay — 5

Zohar — Man of La Book

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