Michael Chabon — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

It’s been a while since I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and I realized as I took it down from the shelf that the pages of the copy I own are starting to yellow, and then I realized that it was published ten years ago and I must have first read it when I was fourteen or fifteen, which is bizarre on its own. I don’t remember it being that long at all. I do remember at the time being absolutely blown away by it (being a comic book fan and a history nerd it was a bit of a perfect storm). In picking it up again for a re-read, I was curious to see if I would be as fond of it as I once had been.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is set in the 30s and 40s mostly, though continues onward, the story of the intertwined lives of Sammy Clay, a young Jewish American comic book writer, and his cousin Joe Kavalier, a European Jew, an escapist and an artist, who escaped the Holocaust, though his family weren’t so lucky. Together they cook up a cult classic, The Escapist, and attempt to weather the cultural insanity of the era.

That’s an oversimplification, of course, and in short the answer is that this is still as wonderful a book as it was a decade ago. The characters keep you reading, both with their secrets and emotional complications; the background of WWII and then the moral witchhunt of the 50s is sad but the way that Chabon portrays it is just right; the interstitial sections of comic book are books I would love to read; and the writing is just damn good. You can feel his own love of comic books in every page.

I found the last section of the book to drag a little bit more than I remember it doing, but mostly this book stood the test of time quite well.


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