Townhouse Books

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon

It seems like it's been a trend over the last decade for a writer to prove his chops by writing a big, sprawling, tome of a book to prove his chops. Michael Chabon gets the sprawling thing down pat and creates a wonderful story in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

The book is set in New York in the 40's and 50's and is about two cousins, Josef Kavalier and Sammy Klayman (later Clay), and the comics that they write. Kavalier is an escape artist and illustrator while Clay writes the comics.

They create a hero named The Escapist who spends most of his time fighting Nazis and escaping from the fiendish traps they create for him. The Escapist comes out at the same time as the first generation of superhero comics and is at least partially based on Clay's view of Kavalier, who has smuggled himself out of Nazi-occupied Europe, and in comparison to the gimpy Clay, is tall, handsome, and athletic.

One of the best things about the book is the deftness with which Chabon describes the comics. He guides the eye of the viewer around, much like Dante, and in doing so, communicates what it feels like to read a comic book. The vividness of his writing is what makes the book such a tremendously pleasurable read.


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  • I just read "The amazing adventures of the escapist." by Michael Chabon

    It had been lingering on my wish list for over a year so I checked it out of the library. Good, quick read. Definitely a companion to the book you read. It is a series of clips from the history of the comic book described by the author.

    By Jason, at 6:49 AM  

  • I never finished Kavalier and Clay. Strange, because I was enjoying the book well enough, but when it was due back to the library I dropped it off and never even wondered how it ended.

    By Anna, at 8:48 AM  

  • Jason - Is it just Escapist adventures?

    Anna - How far through the book did you get?

    By bshort, at 10:11 AM  

  • No, he also has a couple Luna Moth plotlines done up as well. It is really a pseudo-historical retrospective of the entire line. It follows the book fairly well.

    I especially liked when the escapist is done by a Japanese artist and pictured as a kamikaze pilot.

    By Jason, at 11:02 AM  

  • I loved this book but don't think I could ever read it again. Although I got a lot out of it, I think it also took a lot out of me (emotional investment in the characters, sheer time it took to read, etc.). Anyone else feel that way?

    By evt1618, at 8:28 PM  

  • I honestly can't remember how far I got in the book. I remember NY apartments, grandparents, and maybe a golem?

    By Anna, at 9:22 AM  

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