Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon

I love this book. I love this book.

Fan-freaking-tastic, from start to end, I love this book.

I haven't read another of Chabon's books other than the non-fiction collection of essays Maps and Legends (which I also loved), but now I'm definitely adding a huge amount of his novels to my pile. I have to be honest here. About three or four years ago, I picked up Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay from the library and put it down after the first few pages. I guess I was afraid that a novel about comic books wouldn't be able to hold my attention for the duration of the novel, which (I peeked) was many many pages long. I was afraid of getting bored.

Time and place. I think that should be my motto, because when I picked it up this time I couldn't put it down. It got so bad that I started to wish off sleep and contact with other people just so I could lose myself in the world of Kavalier and Clay. Everything felt so real, and happy, sad, or just being, I wanted to be there, hanging out in 1940s New York with the creators of the best fictional comic book hero I've ever come across: The Escapist.

I don't think I can even do justice to explain the plot. Joe Kavalier escapes from Prague only to find himself trapped in the chains of getting his family out after him, which proves to be a very difficult task given the escalating situation in Germany. Along with Sammy Clay, they begin to create and write several different best-selling comic books, making their bosses rich in the process. And while they make a decent enough living in the process, they aren't able to break free from the tyranny of their jobs and the contracts they've signed. And then there's the beautiful Rosa Saks, who becomes entangled in both Kavalier and Clay's lives in so many ways.

Golems (specifically, their metaphorical relation to the creative process), magic, love, loss, tragedy, adventure. These are only some of the things that stand out as I sit and quickly go over how this novel affected me. Larglely, I was affected by the notion of escaping, and how that plays out in many of the character's lives, in so many ways.

Chabon does so many things with this novel. He entertains, he inspects, he elevates the comic books in the story from something most people view as juvenile to a multi-layered reflection of the main character's lives, worries, and cause of their problems. It's, simply said, just brilliant.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, I only hope that I can put off reading it again long enough to get through some of the other books on my list. It's one of my all-time favorites, and I look forward to enjoying it again.

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