A review of this — 2 years ago
A powerful mixture of absurd and serious.
321 out of 336 people (95%) think this is worth consuming…
A powerful mixture of absurd and serious.
This is the best novel I’ve read in a very long time. The story is both epic and intimate. The writing is flawless. It is truly one of those Great American Novels that could, just possibly, save the world one reader at a time.
There’s lots of good stuff going on here… great atmosphere, compelling characters, epic plot, interesting ideas being explored. I’m a sucker for anything involving WWII, comics, escape artists, magic tricks, old New York, the World’s Fair, and on and on. Certainly worth the read just for all that, but it feels like he didn’t know what to do with all of this after he had built it up, and the second half of the novel goes downhill to an abrupt and rather deflating end. Maybe that’s supposed to be the point, but it was dissatisying nonetheless after the great set up.
A powerful piece of historical fiction that takes us into the lives of cousins Sam Clay and Joe Kavalier, who dream of using comics to tell stories that make a difference during the WWII era. While the cousins continuously push the envelope of what can be accomplished via the comic book medium, regarded then as mainly “trash” and “funny stories,” they deal with both personal and professional conflicts. Sam, for instance, meets and falls for the male star of a radio show based on one of his comics, and must face questions pertaining to his sexuality. Joe, who stashes all of his earnings toward bringing his family over from Nazi-occupied Prague, faces endless red-tape and ever surmounting feelings of anger and hopelessness. It seems that although trained as an escape artist (this in fact inspires the creation of Kavalier and Clay’s most successful superhero, The Escapist), Joe cannot provide for his family what he himself has succeeded in doing: escaping to America.
Professionally, Kavalier and Clay not only deal with challenges involved in proving the worth of their work; they also deal with copyright lawsuits and the accusation that comics corrupt youth. In fact, real life author Dr. Fredric Wertham and his book that makes this argument, “The Seduction of the Innocents” at one point are featured. As fringe members of art circles, Sam and Joe end up rubbing elbows at one point or another with other artistic celebrities of the time, such as Salvador Dali and Orson Welles.
The novel itself is beautifully written with lucid imagery. Chapters are concise with tightly contained mini-arcs. I’m tempted to call “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” the modern day “Great American Novel.” Any comic book fan, history buff, escapology or magical illusion fan will enjoy this novel. And any struggling writer or artist with dreams of making a real difference with his or her work will definitely relate to these characters.
I read this back when I was a sophomore in college. I loved it, but I felt it piqued at a certain point for my taste. After that point, I wanted to get it over with as soon as I could. But also that may be because I never liked the early 50’s period, like one the depicted in Julianne Moore’s character in The Hours.
A really fun read with lots of unexpected twists and turns, focusing on the life of two cousins in Manhattan at the time of WWII. I would recommend this to anyone.
A great book. I have an interest in comics, so the pseudohistory of the Golden Age was fun for me, but I think there’s something here for almost everyone. I enjoyed the way most of the characters were portrayed, even though Sam (“Clay”) got on my nerves in the beginning. The pacing might have been a bit slow in one or two places, but never for long.
Chabon really knows how to work the language – the imagery and analogies were evocative, and a joy to read without even considering the plot, which was very good all by itself.
Totally wonderful book – informative and moving!
I enjoyed parts of this, but I don’t know if I can really say it’s worth consuming. “Wonder Boys” is my favorite work of his, and I think it’s a better novel. “Kavalier & Clay” tends to sprawl and the characters aren’t as interesting or believable, though it’s a lot more interesting than his first novel, “Mysteries of Pittsburgh”.
I actually haven’t completed this. I’ve had about 80 pages to go for about 2.5 years. Chabon is one of our best contemporary american writers. There is no doubt he is talented, but in the end, the story and the characters were for me, uncompelling.
It’s been awhile since the well-being of fictional characters distracted me from my day. A substantial but rewarding book: full of visuals and clever, illustrative flourishes that aren’t just ornament.
this book is about america, and comics, and jewishness. i read it in ecuador.
The best opening 80 pages of any book I’ve read. The rest was good, too, but not as good as the opening!
Absolutely fabulous, heartbreaking prose.
I enjoyed the history and the detail in this story. Took a while to finish, but it worth the time.
I picked up Kavalier & Clay because I knew it was somewhat about comic book creators, and I’m a recovering comic book collector. What I got when I finished the book was so much more than just a story about comics.
Great characters with heart and a few dreams. The writing is easy and believable. When the book was finished I wanted to keep hearing about the lives of the characters; what happens next?