Now that I've finally read Kavalier & Clay, I'm astonished that it took me three tries to make it past the first few chapters. Press on, dear readers! This book is one of the most rewarding reads of the year for me. The characters are fascinating. And the story is part adventure, part historical fiction, part love story...and every twist and turn made me want to read more. Truly one of those books that I was sad to finish.
This book started out slow for me and was hard to get into, but around page 100 it really took off. I ended up absolutely loving the book!
One of the reviews on the back cover really hit on what I think is the strong point - highly developed characters. Chabon crafts them to the point they seem like people you've known all your life.
Engaging coming of age story that won the Pulitzer. Some of the prose is a little drawn out - Chabon seems to sometimes lose sight of the big picture in my opinion, and writes and writes and writes. Overall the novel is extremely well put together, and things ultimately come full circle. The writing in this book, while often verbose, is still enjoyable and beautiful. Great story about the beginnings of the comic book industry, and about the effects of WWII on a Jewish immigrant from Czechoslovakia. I think that the beginning of the novel is great - it builds you up, but it doesn't exactly deliver in the end. I was very glad to have read this book, but felt a little disappointed when I had finished it - not that it was finished - but the way that he chose to do so.
A wonderfully unique book, both humorous and heart breaking. I grew to love the characters and it is a compelling portrayal of the times. Beginning in 1939, before America's involvement in WW2 and ranging through 1954. A young Jewish immigrant from Prague, who's exploits of getting to America were fascinating and when he meets his American cousin, they take off as a comic book writing/artist team in New York. This is the story of their dreams, fame, success, sacrifices, failures, and the impacts on their lives and the ones they love. With appearances by real characters in the times such as Orson Welles, Stan Lee, Salvadore Dali, to name a few. This is an excellent read! It was added to the 2010 updated list of "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die".
This book is amazing. Chabon's spellbinding story follows two unique characters throughout the ups and downs of fulfilling the American dream. The characters are unforgettable, the writing phenomenal, and the story one you'll not easily forget. Once you're done, you'll want to start right over.
I've got to say, I was disappointed. In fact, this brings the lifetime total of books that I've simply lost interest in and not finished to about 10. The early chapters were promising (funny and eventful), but about halfway through it just seemed to run out of steam. I liked the basic premise, but about halfway through, simply got bored. Wonder Boys (by the same author) was a much more compelling read for me.
This is a really beautiful book. It is epic, character-driven, historically fascinating, and generally lovely. The metaphors and language are amazing. It is, like most reviewers have said, hard to get into at first. I'm an English teacher, and frankly, a lot of the vocabulary is difficult and not very "conversational." You might need a dictionary to follow in some places. However, it is totally worth pushing past some of the inaccessible language. The way Chabon weaves character storylines and moves between past and present is quite special.
A great read. The author draws upon the fears of two young men as they draw from the darkness in each of their lives to create adventure through comic books. Adventurous. Great work demonstrating the angst of personal torture, while remaining entertaining at the same time.
A copy of this book had been sitting around at work for a while now, so since it had been in my consciousness, I noticed when I saw a copy of it at my brother's house as well. I asked about it, and my brother highly recommended it - and plus it won the Pulitzer prize - so I thought I'd read it too!
It's about two Jewish cousins who meet in New York in the lead-up to WWII, and start in the business of comic books together. Throughout the book, their comics and superhero characters reflect on and illuminate the young men's concerns and dreams - fighting against Nazis and other evils, being father figures, objects of desire, and/or totems of wish-fulfillment.
It's well-done, well-researched, and gives insight into various aspects of life circa 1940's NYC, the Jewish Experience, and all that good literary-type stuff.
It starts very light-heartedly, gets much more serious, and finally, I thought, ended rather abruptly - which was my only complaint with the book.
Melony A. reviewed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay on
Helpful Score: 1
This book was rated best of the Decade by Paste Magazine, which is what got me to read it. I wish I didn't know they'd given it that rating, though, b/c it raised my expectations unreasonably high. So in the beginning, I wasn't thrilled by the book b/c I was expecting, with a number 1 ranking, to be instantly hooked. However, before I was 1/3 of the way through, I was enjoying it, and by halfway, I was REALLY enjoying it. By the end, I loved it. I still have a lot of books to read before I can say it is the best of the decade, but it's definitely up there!
James P. reviewed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay on
Helpful Score: 1
Wow!!! Zap!!! Pow!!!
For someone who never followed the comic book art form, this docudrama of the early days of the genre is a metaphysical tour de force. Beautifully written as a saga of the industry's formative years in 1930's New York, the author weaves an engaging overview of the writers, artists, and entrepreneurs of the time. A very satisfying read!
Don Maclean's "American Pie" told the story of rock, from its roots in the mid-50s until the end of the 1960s. A lot happened in that 15 years, it took longer than the usual pop song to describe it all.
Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" tells the story of the early days of the comic books, from the early days of World War II (before the US got directly involved) until the mid 1950s. A lot happened in that 15 years, it took longer than the usual novel to describe it all. (Over 600 pages of text 26 hours when performed on audio book). Except it's not JUST about comic books. It's about an artist who dabbled in parlor magic and escapes and was able to use that training to escape Czechoslovakia during the Nazi's reign. It's about a would-be artist who finds his true calling in writing. AND ... it's about the legendary Golem, even if the beast's appearance is brief never lose sight of the fact his shadow falls on much of the action in this book.
I definitely enjoyed the aspects of the book that involved comic book history, (enjoying the cameos by some of the field's greats of those days) and the lives of the creators. I thought that time tale of the two's lives during the US involvement in World War II was a bit, um, out there. It just didn't seem to add to the story, and served as a lengthy diversion. (Yes, it affected the two but it just felt awkward to me.)
Overall, this was an incredible investment of my time but one which I found to be an investment, rather than a waste. Good job, Mr. Chabon.
This was an excellent read. It's got everything you're looking for in a book; war, superstition, history, love, super heroes, and surprises. The downside of this book is that it is long and it can drag at times. It took me a little to get into it, but it was worth it.
The cover of the book enticed me-I will read anything about NYC! It started out slowly, as there is quite a bit of vocabulary the average person might not understand; once I got past about 100 pages it became more readable and interesting. The theme of the book surrounds the history of the comic book; 2 cousins from different backgrounds meet in NY to combine their artistic/imaginative talents to create a highly successful series of comics.
Set in the WWII years, it also involves Joe Kavalier's family who are Jews trying to escape the Nazi's.
The story is humorous, sad, and historic. I enjoyed it and recommend it!
I thought it was a very enjoyable read. I believe anyone who likes the old comic books and or the period of the late 1930s thru the 40s will like this book. It is a long book but worth it. (I actually wish it was longer...lol)
Solid, some parts were a bit drawn out, others, esp later, seemed
to jump too far ahead too quickly. Overlook these two small glitches and you have an enchanting tale of friendship, superheroes, war, and adventure.
I just could not get into this book even though it was highly recommended by a family friend who usually recommends books I love. I'm sending it off to someone else who will hopefully like it having not finished it myself.
7/8/08 I find myself surrounded by heroes: on television, in the movies and the heroes that Chabon invents are in every way super. Josef Kavalier is a Czech 19 year old trained as a magician and escape artist who in October of 1938 comes to live with his cousin in Brooklyn Sammy Clay. Sammy, raised on optimism and comic books convinces his bosses at a novelty toy company to let he and Joe and his friends draw the comic book hero the Escapist.
A costumed hero whose power would be that of impossible and perpetual escape He offers the hope of liberation and the promise of freedom.
In the Escapist, Joe and Sammy create a character who they and their audience believe could change the world. In drawing and writing him they transform themselves. Joe falls in love with Rosa, Sam falls in love guiltily with Bacon, the first actor to play the Escapist on radio. And they have various other adventures, as befits comic book heroes.
Having lost his mother, father, brother, and grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history -- his home-- the usual charge leveled against comic book, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually a powerful argument on their behalf. He had escaped, in his life, from ropes, chains, boxes, bags, and crates, from handcuffs and shackles, from countries and regimes, from the arms of a woman who loved him, from crashed airplanes and an opiate addiction and from an entire continent intent on causing his death. The escape from reality was, he felt -- especially right after the war -- a worthy challenge.
Good story. I like the way Chabon describes things.....he's one of those authors who knows how to use the English language to it's fullest. He also did a lot of research for this story.....much of the sotry that took place in Antarctica is based on fact.
A young Jewish artist who escapes Nazi-invaded Prague, and his Brooklyn cousin create heroes, stories and art for the latest novelty to hit America--comic books. An unforgettable story about American romance and possibility. A Pulitzer Prize winner.
I loved this book and didn't want it to end! Like other reviewers, I had a difficult time getting into this book at first, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. This is one of those stories that will stick with you. It is about relationships, history, love, tragedy, adventure, and comics all wrapped together and beautifully written.
This novel is completely engaging. I found myself disappearing into the world of Kavalier and Clay. It is one of those novels that introduces the readers to characters who are alive, and scenes that are unforgettable.
This is a great story. The characters are interesting, the dialogue is fantastic & the adventures are fun! I really appreciated the insight it offered as to how Jewish immigrants felt about the American response to Hitler's invasion of European countries. This is a really cool book!
"NEWS FLASH:" Korean American female, age 30, reads "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" and now wants to be Kavalier or Clay!! Convinces Polish American female, age 52 with 3 children, to read "The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay." Now reads comic books.
Pulitzer Prize winning tale that starts with magician Joe Kavalier's harrowing escape from wartime Prague, to his cousin Sammy Klayman's house in New York. The two boys eventually create a comic book hero, "The Escapist". Complex and ambitious. Chabon also wrote "Wonder Boys."
I think this book covers an awful lot of ground and I loved the writing. I learned things about history I hadn't known before, I had fun thinking about comic books, and at it's heart, I felt like it was a book about the importance of stories. From the beginning when Joe escapes Europe hidden with a golem, a creature brought to life by letters, to the end where he "came to feel that the work - telling this story - was helping to heal him" it's a book that reminds us of the importance of narratives. There's even a comic book that Chabon wrote to be the comic book created by characters in this novel.
This brilliant epic novel set in New York and Prague introduces us to two misfit young men who make it big by creating comic-book superheroes. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America the comic book. Inspired by their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapists, The Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.
Amy O. reviewed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay on
I picked up this book on a referral from someone without really knowing what it was about. The jacket descriptions makes it seem like a snoozer, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were well written and likable. I'm glad I read this and would recommend to others.
Pulitzer prize-winning story of a comic artist and new immigrant to New York City, and his cousin. The two men start a comic book and as the popularity of their comic grows, their lives, romances, and opportunities grow as well.
Like the comic books that animate and inspire it, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is both larger than life and of it too. Complete with golems and magic and miraculous escapes and evil nemeses and even hand-to-hand Antarctic battle, it pursues the most important questions of love and war, dreams and art, across pages brimming with longing and hope. Samuel Klayman--self-described little man, city boy, and Jew--first meets Josef Kavalier when his mother shoves him aside in his own bed, telling him to make room for their cousin, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Prague. It's the beginning, however unlikely, of a beautiful friendship. In short order, Sam's talent for pulp plotting meets Joe's faultless, academy-trained line, and a comic-book superhero is born. A sort of lantern-jawed equalizer clad in dark blue long underwear, the Escapist "roams the globe, performing amazing feats and coming to the aid of those who languish in tyranny's chains!" Before they know it, Kavalier and Clay (as Sam Klayman has come to be known) find themselves at the epicenter of comics' golden age.
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