Friday, January 09, 2009


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon, Random House Inc, 2000, 636 pp

Because I read for so many different reasons and projects (research for my memoir, research for my novel, reading for the bookstore and the 5 reading groups I attend), I sometimes read many books before I find one to love unconditionally. I've always planned to read Chabon and grabbed this one on a whim one day at the library. He won the Pulitzer for this one, so by a stretch, it fits into My Big Fat Reading Project, but it is about cartoonists from the 1940s and I've never been into cartoons. (I found out why in the book.) Anyway, it was great, absorbing, heart wrenching and I did not want it to end.

The writing is beautiful, muscular, full of words and images that put me deeply into both places and people's hearts. The stories of Kavalier, refugee from Prague, student of magic and artist extraordinaire, who can escape from anywhere and anything except his survivor's guilt; and of his cousin Sammy Clay, who can spin stories 24 hours a day, who loves men and women and children but not himself and takes the concept of loyalty to a new dimension; these stories go on and on. Every story is larger than life, like the superheroes they created, composed of feats of overcoming adversity, massive creativity, heights of triumph and sloughs of despair, all tied together by dogged perseverance and hard work.

Meanwhile, the reader learns about the rise and fall of the Golden Age of superhero comics, Brooklyn and Jews from just before World War II into the 1950s. Since this is the period I've been reading through for the past six years, it was another view for me, one I had only glimpsed in a few books so far.

This amazing author has moved right up to the top of the queue of authors whose entire oeuvre of novels I must read and I am off to the library to get The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. I was never into baseball either but I am sure it won't bother me.

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