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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
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Product Description

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 F¨¹hrer'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

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award, New York Library Book Award Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Los Angeles Times Book AwardJoe Kavalier, a young Jewish 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.Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

Customer Reviews:

  • Chabon vents his issues
    Reading this book is sort of analogous to having a days-long therapy session; this is something I see as both a strength and a weakness. I don't think many people would deny Chabon's strength as a storyteller, but, like Quentin Tarantino's movies, his single-minded obsessions often come out as stronger than the characters would have realistically experienced them. Chabon is pretty good at hiding this sort of writing-as-katharsis impulse, but there are a few points in the book where you're reading about comic books, Jewish oppression, and homosexuals, and wondering if this is a book or a confessional.

    As a story about two Jewish cousins who write comics, one of them a homosexual, this is a concern that runs through the length of the novel, even if the concern is a minor one.

    I sometimes find myself swayed by the power of final pages and final sentences, and this book really delivered what I wanted. Satisfying, not entirely happy, not expected; strength at the same time as surrender. Chabon seems to understand the art of making near-heroes out of characters at one time both extraordinary and self-destructively passive....more info
  • Brilliant, Sweeping, Deft, Jewish, Human, Enthralling; Worthy of the Pulitzer...
    ... which it won !

    I confess that despite the amazing appeal of this sprawling 639 page romp - read it through and through with stops only for food and ablutions - it's existence was completely unknown to me prior to reading the tags and reviews and realizing that it had everything I like in non science-related fiction. To wit:

    Tales of young men coming into varied adulthoods - check.

    Comics and the progression of that Art form - check.

    New York or other foreign lands - double check.

    Strong and wise female characters - check.

    Various and potent adventures had by all - check.

    Complex plots WITHOUT handy neat "here's the lesson" endings or answers - check.

    more, more, more, more - check.

    To be quite honest I could burn up even Amazon's generous character allotment with reasons why you should read this amazing tome by Mr. Chabon - suffice to say that he has crafted a uniquely American tale spanning [roughly] the late 1930's to the mid 1950's through the eyes, minds and hearts [and other parts] of his eminently likable leads.

    Suffice to say that while this tale is not for the prudish [other parts, etc.] it is also sufficiently decent, in the meaningful definition, to allow any reader of even modest experience to appreciate both the scope and the detail of MC's tale without getting crushed by anything not commonly found on the front page of our "modern" times. Consider the time span of it's subjects and be advised that Chabon only rarely [very rarely as I see it] delves into language and manners that would cause concern or consternation in the tale's native era.

    I'll close with my favorite quote from this quote filled item:
    "Forget about what you are escaping from.
    Reserve you anxiety for what you are escaping to"...more info
  • Great writing and storytelling
    This award winning epic depicting the history of the comic book industry has both informed and entertained this reader. The novel opens with an introduction to its heroes; cousins who are thrust together by circumstances that ultimately provide the impetus for their life's work. We meet Josef Kavalier in 1939 as a teenager after his escape from Prague to New York prior to Hitler's reign of terror against the Jews. Joe is a skilled artist and magician having honed his talents under the guidance of the most reputable trainers in each field. Samuel Clay is Joe's American born cousin and an aspiring novelist whose job at a New York novelties company serves as the spring board that launches the cousins' careers as comic book creators and New York socialites. Sammy uses his imaginative abilities and writing talents to create superhuman characters and supporting storylines that serve as both creative outlet for his writing and perhaps the covert expression of a more personal manner. Joe channels his frustrations with Hitler and his inability to rescue his family from Hitler's grip into comic strip drawings that depict the German regime and its leader as weak and vulnerable to the powers of comic book characters created to advance freedom around the world. Together the team of cousins creates memorable and socially critical comics that sustain them through life's trails and adventures.

    "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" reflects and challenges the moral and political barometer of Americans from the 1930s leading up to WW II and immediately after. The New York City setting is a perfect back drop that allows Chabon to capture the artistic energy ultimately used in comics to heighten troop and citizen moral during the war. I particularly enjoyed how the author's storytelling morphs aspects of the city into the plot and setting of the comic books Sam and Joe write; during these times I actually felt that I was reading a comic book not a novel. Overall this is a very enjoyable read. The novel is dense but well paced. Chabon unfurls deftly structured sentences that convey information critical to the story and stimulus critical to the reader's senses. The characters are multidimensional, memorable and familiar in a way that recalled for me my first encounter with a "comic book". Having grown up during an era where most comic book character had made their way to the tube (I never knew Superman or Batman as comic book characters, only characters on TV) and where the genre was considered intellectually inferior, my first experience with a "comic book" was at the age of thirty-five when a co-worker suggested that I read Art Spiegelman's "Maus: Part I" (The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale). That reading experience was incredible and a couple of months later I found myself reading "Maus: Part II". Chabon's Pulitzer winning " . . . Kavalier & Clay" reconnected me to that experience and has reignited an interest in the history of the genre. Highly recommended, enjoy!
    ...more info
  • What can I add of value beside my vote?
    A brilliant novel that overreaches and succeeds. Ambitious, rich, and HUGE in all the important and good ways.

    A must read!...more info
  • Irritating Zig-Zags
    I like the writing in this book. I like the characters in it. It took me to a different time and place. The characters are rich and complex. I cannot, however, recommend this book. It has many sub-stories within its main storyline. Many of them are never resolved. They just fade away. The book zig-zags all of the place. I finished four-fifths of the book and gave up. I got tired of twists and turns that ended nowhere....more info
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kalier and Clay
    A well written, and exciting nostalgic adventure from the golden era of comic books, and days of World War 2. Well paced and seemed much shorter than the 600 + pages....more info
  • The book title says it all
    It helps if you were born in New York and identify with people who can draw or have other creative skills. It also helps if you care about the struggles, successes and heartbreaks of the first and second generation of immigrants in the thirties and forties. Even if none of the above applies to you, you'll find Kavalier and Clay fascinating and sympathetic characters who you'll be rooting for until the end of their story....more info
  • Fun (Historical) Adventure!
    Wow, it was a great read. This was a hard one to put down for any length of time. Around every corner a wonderful (and historically correct) adventure. Fascinating read!...more info
    I found this book deeply satisfying. Some of Michael Chabon's writing is brilliant, but a little too into the clever metaphor or dazzling use of language. Okay, as an author, I'd kill for that verbal ability, but in some cases, it fails to touch my heart the way I want a great book to move me. This one satisfies on all levels: Brilliant technique, unbelievable imagination, a plot that nobody else could come up with. And lovely, moving characters. A great read, a great book. I recommend it highly....more info
  • Dictionary required....
    I can see why this novel won a P. Prize......well written, concise in explanation - maybe too much information for my taste. Subject matter: enjoyable and worth reading. It is not often a dictionary is needed when reading, but this time I marked twelve pages in thirty. A heavy tome with good qualities, but I would not read it again....more info
  • Great Fiction
    Fabulous example of what fictions does best. Reading this intelligent, highly creative novel will introduce you to a cast of characters you would never have the pleasure of meeting in "real" life and take you to times and places you couldn't otherwise experience. The humor, sincerity, and inventiveness of Chabon's writing will capture your imagination from the early pages and sustain you throughout. Even at over 600 pages, you'll be sad to say goodbye....more info
  • So much stimuli but no big BANG
    I enjoy Chabon's writing, he has a secret message in his stories that take on more meanings then one. But after the halfway point of this story the reader knows where the pieces will fall, looks at the remaining 300 pages, and says "they better not", but they do. The first time I read Kavalier and Clay I skipped to the back and read what happened just to confirm my hypothesis, and happily read on from the point I left off. I have read all of Chabons work and I like this book the best, partially because it is a great story and partially because Chabons creative and loud vocabulary stands out so much. But there is no gold at the end of the rainbow, what was previously just a hunch becomes a reality and the book leaves you starving for a more mature ending. ...more info
  • The story of two unique individuals and a uniquely American art form
    Joe Kavalier, a Jewish refugee, and his cousin Sam Klayman, a New York teen angling to make a buck, get into the comic book business by creating the Escapist, a superhero whose popularity eventually rivals Superman's. This early triumph starts them on a long, twisting road of success, failure, and self-discovery spanning a dozen years and three continents.

    Comic books are sometimes described as the American mythology, and Michael Chabon, who clearly believes that to be the case, makes a compelling case for it in his entertaining and moving narrative. As he tells it, the superhero has its roots in the Jewish refugee experience. Fired by a sense of alienation and persecution and given form by Jewish folklore such as the tale of the Golem, comic book writers and artists consisted of genuine talents as well as forgettable hacks, all of them "dreaming as hard as they can," to use Chabon's memorable phrase, in an attempt to fill pages and capture the attention of the American public. The result is a vast body of work that unselfconsciously gives allegorical form to American concerns, dreams, and self-delusions, and, in Chabon's hands, it also provides a poignant counterpoint to the arcs of his richly detailed characters. This great novel not only tells a moving story, but it also teaches us about a part of the American experience that has often been overlooked.
    ...more info
  • Great book but where does it lead?
    I thought Kavalier and Clay was an enjoyable read. It taught me a few things, especially about words I didn't know the meaning to and some things about Eastern European Jewish culture. The first two hundred pages were a struggle to get through because I'm not really that literary-minded; I just like to read, and all that complex langugage and sentence structure was a little dragging. Maybe that's why it took me eight years to finally pick it up again and read it after I had bought it sometime in 2002.

    The character of Josef Kavalier was probably my favorite in the book. I enjoyed the personal and creative relationship he and Sammy had. I could relate to Josef's futile struggle to save his family and bring them to safety and the agony of trying to meet those needs by living a nicer life in New York while doing so.

    I did have trouble with following the narrative at times because it kept jumping from past to present and so forth in an awkward, disjointed sort of way. In some instances, the evolving plot was predictable. I could anticipate what was going to happen next in the unfolding of events like Chabon was setting up his readers as a teacher preparing his students for the next day's lessons and agenda. I believe that some of the themes on homosexuality, etc. were already touched upon in Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I could almost expect what elements would be presented here from reading that first novel of Chabon's.

    I don't particularly know what merits a Pulitzer but I would think that it would be a 5 star rating of a book. I thought the ending was too simplistic, predictable once again. To his credit or not, for the last 300 pages or so, Chabon ditched his flowery prose and started in with the much more readable language I find appealing. All in all it was a good read but nothing mind-blowing or emotionally deep.

    ...more info
  • Entertaining is not enough
    There's no denying Chabon's brilliant writing skills. Kept me turning the pages even when I didn't want to go on. And, having grown up as a comic book collector, I was supposed to be the perfect audience for Chabon's epic work on comics, Jews, the edges of the Holocaust and WWI, and America of the 20th century. But it just didn't work. Too much drama and entertainment, and not enough meaning. I guess that's no surprise: comics are always entertainment but never quite literature even at their best. My advice: read The Yiddish Policemen's Union and stop at that....more info
  • Well-written, but I see what many are saying . . .
    First off, this novel never gets boring, which is quite an achievement for something so long. Chabon does an impressive job of telling the tale of two cousins with different backgrounds. Yet while the story and delivery are first-rate, there isn't exactly a literary message per se beyond keys, locks and imprisonment, be this last of the physical, social, mental or emotional sort. Sure, you could go back and write a book report about that sort of symbolism, but you don't really come away from the novel the same way you might with "Catcher in the Rye," "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Elmer Gantry" or "The Great Gatsby," but then those have weathered the test of time and "Kavalier and Clay" might suffer from being a work of contemporary fiction in that regard. What author who writes today really attains that kind of status in the here and now? Irving, Updike and Cormac McCarthy . . . maybe. ...more info
  • Clever concept, good writing. Redundant and predictable, though
    I'd say that I thought this was an excellent book for about the first 200 pages. After that, it became rather redundant and predictable. The aventures of Kavalier & Clay--two cousins shows the rise of its protagonists as comic book creators with the geographic back drop of NYC and the time period of WW II. We see the machinations of the business world conflict with that of the creative. Superheroes are accepted or rejected based on taste, political correctness of the time, and predicted marketability. Against these antagonists, our heroes try to keep their artistic freedom and use their comic books to express social concerns. Then of course, as to be expected in a post-modern novel, we have some meta-fiction thrown in. There are chapters that read as separate stories--tales that are drawn straight form the minds of the two cousins, so the comic book plots become integrated into the main plot in a seamless effort. The problem for me is that after 200 pages, it all gets so predictable, and uses ultimately the very conventional Hollywood device of obstacle/resolution, obstacle resolution. So despite an attempt at meta-narrative and post-modern cleverness, in the end, this is a very conventional novel with no particular interesting characters and no particularly interesting plot--it's the same two guys make it in America despite the odds. The best line in the book, IMO, is when one comic book entrepreneur says something like 'When you two boys realize that the only important thing is money and forget about being artists, you will achieve a sense of tranquility that you've never imagined possible.' I achieved my tranquility when I put down the book, after getting tired of the repetition and predictability....more info
  • Comic history in the making
    Kavalier and Clay are Jewish cousins, Clay (morphed from Klayman) a short New Yorker crippled by polio, Kavalier a tall brooding escapee from Europe just before Hitler locked the gates and opened the extermination lines. The day after Kavalier's surprising arrival in New York, after his amazing escape from Europe via Japan and San Francisco, Sam and Joe launch the multi-million dollar earning Escapist comic book line in a combination of daring, talent, and brinksmanship bluffing.

    The rest of the book is the story of how they survive success and conquer failure. The book reads quickly, with only an uncomfortable homosexuality subplot to ruin the enjoyment of the interaction between the cousins and the bubbling potboiling excitement of the early days of comic books in the 1930 and 1940s....more info
  • How can you eat one more thing?
    When I someone give a book a rave review, I'm usually skeptical. It's pretty rare that I find someone whose opinion so closely mirrors my own that I can take what they say without a grain of salt.

    So I had my skeptic's hat on when I began reading Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, my first book by this now well-known author. I scratch my head now at my own naivete.

    It is near impossible to cite the many qualities that make this novel a feast, but surely they must include: a character who is an escape artist, lock-picker magician, Nazi's in Prague, the Golem, comic books, wacky New York literati, torrid love affairs, mid-20th Century gay angst, Antartica, and redemption.

    Is that enough? There's more but I can't possibly add to this list without confusing you, dear reader, even more than you must be. A quick plot synopsis: Josef Kavalier, a Czech Jew from a respected Prague family, manages to escape Nazi occupation immediately before WWII and comes to America. Moving in with his aunt and a similarly-aged first cousin, "Joe" struggles with being American, raising money to get his family out of Europe, his art as a comic book illustrator, love, tragedy and a long climb out of the abyss.

    Chabon's writing style is dense, complex and wonderful to read. I was amazed that some of his sentences went on nearly a half page, but I was not lost by the time I reached the period. He doesn't use his mastery at writing to confound or impress, but to tell a story that is as complex and multi-layered as his use of language.

    There are some plot areas that seem throw-away, for instance, the Golem of Prague, and at times I wondered if Chabon wasn't trying to make the story more complex than it ought to be. Thinking back now, I wonder if Chabon didn't practice what one of the sub-thematic characters (Harry Houdini) would have called misdirection. We were waiting for something to happen in one part of the plot while something else was developing and taking over the story.

    At the end of the novel, I closed the book and said fervently, to myself of course, "Damn, that was good."

    I often read books more than once, particularly if I'm certain I've missed nuances that the first or second reading didn't impart. I'm quite certain this book will be back on my nightstand again....more info
  • The Rise of Men in Tights and Capes
    1930's New York: Bread lines, thirty percent unemployment rate, labor unrest, a city still trying to assimilate a large influx of refugees from Europe (though that river has now been slowed to a trickle by new immigration limits), a great city with hopes for the future as shown by the World's Fair, but overhung with depression and despair - what better time for the rise of the pure escapist literature of the pulp magazines and comic books? Where Batman, The Shadow, and yes, Superman! can drape a veil over everyday concerns, and allow the reader to wallow for a time in a world where things go right, where evils are summarily defeated, and where, disguised as the superhero sidekick, the reader can imagine himself playing a role.

    Into this world Chabon injects Sammy Clay and his cousin Joe Kavalier, one raised in New York, the other in Prague, two young men with both artistic and literary ability, who conceive of a new idea for a superhero, the Escapist, a man whom no locks, cuffs, or iron bars can hold. An idea at the right time and place, and leading to a fantastically successful publication, though Sammy and Joe only get to see a small part of that success. As time moves on and WWII intervenes, we watch these two men develop and change, each in their own way fighting for the American Dream.

    Chabon's theme is inextricably intertwined with the dreams and actions of these two men, and the road they travel is not without a large number of bumps, upheavals, disappointments, obsessions, loves, hates, and ironies. These characters are sharply drawn, their reactions to world and local events makes good sense for the type of people they are. While Chabon's prose occasionally rises to the level of some purpleness (and might make some people reach for a dictionary), it does an excellent job of making this world come alive. Clearly Chabon did his homework in digging out the history of the comic book, and his injection of his own creation into this world fits so seamlessly that it is difficult to separate the real names and history from his fictional ones.

    Perhaps the best thing about this book (for me, anyway), were the times when Chabon details some of the actual story lines for these comic books, as they capture the spirit and heart of what this new medium of comic books was all about.

    This may not be the greatest book ever written, but it presents a solid case for the usefulness of `escape' that I don't believe I've seen elsewhere, makes you live and see that period of our history, peoples it with some very real, if somewhat unconventional, characters, while not avoiding the darker aspects of human nature and the sometimes horrendous actions of humans against humans. And in doing all this, it is easy to see why it took the Pulitzer Prize.

    ---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
    ...more info
  • Amazing is correct
    This book was simply amazing. I was drawn into the story, the characters, the background, everything. I cannot stop thinking about it, and I know that this one will stay with me for a long time. This is perhaps one of my top five favorite books of all time. Now, onto more Chabon.......more info
  • Suffers From Indulgence
    No point in rehashing what has been stated previously. This is a compelling narrative taking part in a storied time, recent enough to still seem familiar, but remaining disconnected from the present generation.

    It ends up feeling like a more detailed family tale, something passed on by wizened grandparents, a clear portal into what they left out when they began, "When I was young..."

    My main complaint with the story is that it involves too many unearned tangents. Unlike some, I did not find the sudden leap to Antarctica to be incongruous or unwieldy at all. It served a necessary purpose to understanding the actions of a title character.

    But that one instance does not redeem countless, superfluous others. I can't help but think that Chabon could use a more determined editor. There is a difference between being indulgent and economical with prose, a distinction that Chabon would benefit from.

    ...more info
  • Chabon Has Done Considerably Better
    I agree with most of the others who found the book overblown with characters that should have become more interesting than the comics they loved. What I find truly interesting, though, is the number of people who found this book engaging. I read it on the basis of good reviews. Likely my last Chabon book, which is sad because he has written some wonderful stuff....more info
  • Escapist Genius
    What a brilliant idea to use a Houdini-like escape artist as a wish-metaphor for escaping the encroaching Holocaust! And when Josef Kavalier escapes from Prague and arrives in the US, how inspired to have him and his cousin Sam Clay become leaders in the new comic book industry! Their fantasy stories featuring the Escapist become an increasingly ironic counterpoint to the inescapable situation in Europe, leaving the authors increasingly frustrated even as they are finding success. Even without the Holocaust references, this novel would be an exuberant paean to American creativity in its pop-culture heyday, much in the manner of Doctorow's RAGTIME. But the wartime context of hope, despair, and slow recovery gives the book a personal dimension as poignant as it is enthralling.

    One of the delights in Chabon's book is the ease with which he passes between fantasy and reality. Kavalier and Clay are talented but still ordinary people, hard-working schmucks prey to exploitation by various fat cats. The action takes place in real time, most of it in the edgy period before Pearl Harbor. Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, and numerous other celebrities make cameo appearances, their authenticity enhanced by quasi-academic footnotes. Yet a chapter that starts as dead-pan narrative may well turn out to be the latest episode in the adventures of some comic book hero. Chabon keeps his readers deliciously on their toes, joining the ranks of recent Jewish writers who delight in telling stories within stories -- Paul Auster (ORACLE NIGHT), Jonathan Safran Foer (EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED), Mark Helprin (REFINER'S FIRE), Dara Horn (THE WORLD TO COME), or Nicole Krauss (THE HISTORY OF LOVE) -- and beating most of them at their own game.

    There are two main emotional threads in the novel. One is this unsual view of the Holocaust from the sidelines, watching helplessly as tragedy passes by. The other, as in Chabon's first novel THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH, is a coming-into-ones-own story about a charismatic young man (Joe Kavalier), his writer friend (Sam Clay), and the woman with whom both become involved (Rosa Saks, another artist). But the novel has so much electricity that PITTSBURGH seems gray by comparison. The focus is clearer also; there is no doubt that, in artistry as in love, Kavalier is the leading character of the pair. But this allows Clay to develop in more quiet ways, as Chabon sensitively explores the question of sexual identity, only to have Sam surprise the reader more than once before the end.

    After devoting three-quarters of the book to the period between 1939 and 1942, Chabon suddenly introduces a twelve-year gap. It is a daring move. 1954 has a more sober atmosphere, none of the characters are in their first youth, and American success stories do not often run to second acts. Even the promised "Amazing Adventures" so abundantly provided in the rest of the book have a post-climactic feel. Yet, whether viewed as the ending of a love story, or the slow coming to terms with the aftermath of tragedy, this final part has a moving authenticity that may well be a greater achievement than all the high jinks that came before....more info
  • Masterful
    I listened to the abridged version of this, which made me miss some of the exposition that Chabon loves to engage in. Kavalier and Clay's lives and the juxtaposition of New York as a city in those lives was very well done. NYC was almost like a third main character. Chabon also did a good job of describing the golem and other Jewish traditions without bogging down the story. Towards the end, a melancholy that stuck with me after the book ended set in. Kavalier and Clay live on, but their lives have gone from marvelous to ordinary. ...more info
  • Kaptivating & Clever
    My first book by Chabon and I'm hooked. It's about the people, the people & the people! Great down to earth believable characters drive this story. While I could guess some of the events that are going to happen, I was surprised at how they happened and how many times I guessed wrong. I love long reads but I find that most drag numerous times. This one kept me reading & turning pages rather than skimming & turning. More Chabon is in the offing for me.

    The book description above will give you enough info about the book, I'll add that highly recommend it. It may be one that I'll read again (something I rarely do as the dust gathering on that shelf will attest to)....more info
  • An Amazing Ride
    Since my goal is to read the entire list of Pulitzer winners for fiction, I was obligated to read this book. Am I ever glad I did. The story was great, I learned a lot, and loved how it turned out. It improved my vocabulary too!...more info
  • The Most Super of All Powers
    A beautiful book about Sammy and Joe, two cousins who end up writing and drawing comic books together, the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a staggering tale of dedication, commitment, human frailty, perseverance, loyalty, and the many faces of the most powerful of all super powers, love. it shows the power of the love and appreciation of art, the power of family, the power of ethnicity, and the power of dreams. There is a riff early in Kavalier and Clay in which Sammy throws out ideas for heroes that is a hilarious send-up of super powers. Chabon knows that Sammy knows from the beginning that he has the power of his dreams, the power of his loyalty, and ultimately the power of love that will carry him through adversity to find happiness. Joe on the other hand must face the unimaginably grim reality of leaving everyone he loves behind to face the Nazi horrors. There is never a mystery about what Joe's loved ones face, and we feel along with him the guilt of his finding new people to love in the America of the mid-20th Century, a place of amazing opportunity and amazing charlatans. Chabon destroys the idea of nostalgia by exposing some societal norms that border on the Nazism that the characters set out to fight, each in his own way. The book is set in a particular time and Chabon does not glamorize that time, just portrays it honestly.

    Normally I view the Pulitzer Prize as an enormous badge of mediocrity. Look how many books chosen for it have fallen from fashion, never to darken the door of literature beyond their meager days in the sun. Yet with Kavalier and Clay the pretentious puffer fish of the Pulitzer Prize committee plucked a plum. This novel will stand because of Chabon's marvelous wordcraft, and the most super of all powers....more info
  • The novel reads like a film
    This is an amazing book. There are so many novels being published today that are written so simplistically they are more screenplays than literature. What is special about Kavalier and Klay is the depth and beauty of the visuals. About the golden age of comic books and other exceptionally significant parts of the twentieth century you are carried away by the perfect, constant descriptions of place, atmosphere and human emotion and it is in this way that the book reads like the very best aspects of the very best film. I literally look forward to the film that demands to be made to bring this incredible work of fiction to life.
    I see Adrian Brody as Kavalier, Elijah Wood as Klay and Zoey Deschanel as Rosa but that's just me....more info
  • A Book That's Meaning Runs Far Below the Surface
    I read this book in my English class during my senior year of high school, and, at first, I hated it. Not only because I had no idea how it could relate to a senior English class's high school curriculum, but also because the book is intimidating, with it's excellent choice of advanced vocabulary and lengthy stature. However, about thirty pages into the book, I began to be drawn in. The book holds your attention, because so many different stories are taking place at once. The book is not just about two cousins creating their own comic book company; it goes much deeper, and shows how two boys are forced to grow up so fast, even though they're still so young. Both Sam and Joe experience love, heartbreak, success, and failure in their own ways. The book is truly an amazing novel, because it takes two boys from completely different cultures and bonds them for life through the trials they are forced to face together.

    If you feel like the book starts slow, give it time. It's truly an amazing novel, and you won't regret reading it....more info
  • Entertaining
    Well written, enjoyable read. I was interested in the characters, even though I was sometimes confused if this was truly based on someone or just pulp fiction. If you are interested in the evolution of comics and their influence, you will enjoy this book. ...more info
  • Kavalier and Clay
    An excellent book by an excellent author. It has depth, detail and one is constantly led forward as the characters and the plot develops. Outstanding....more info