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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay…

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content): A Novel (edition 2012)

by Michael Chabon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,327302141 (4.23)1 / 568
Title:The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content): A Novel
Authors:Michael Chabon
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 704 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

  1. 174
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (Pagemistress)
  2. 112
    The World According to Garp by John Irving (alzo)
  3. 71
    The ten-cent plague : the great comic-book scare and how it changed America by David Hajdu (legxleg, questionablepotato)
    legxleg: The Ten-Cent Plague is a nonfiction book about the crackdown on the morality of comics that the characters of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay are so affected by.
  4. 61
    The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Othemts)
  5. 83
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Othemts, questionablepotato)
  6. 31
    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (tmspinks)
  7. 20
    Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins (WomensSeqArtLibrary)
    WomensSeqArtLibrary: A graphic biography for younger readers about a real-life Kavalier; the true story of a young Jewish woman who escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna and became a legendary comic book artist
  8. 31
    The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan (WomensSeqArtLibrary)
    WomensSeqArtLibrary: Companion book about group of young artistic friends trying to re-imagine the Escapist for the 21st century, by one of the hottest comic book writers of our age.
  9. 10
    The People's Act of Love by James Meek (alzo)
  10. 00
    Crossing California by Adam Langer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  11. 00
    The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: A little birdie told me this was a great fit!
  12. 11
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Miranda_Paige)
  13. 00
    Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (sturlington)
  14. 33
    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (alzo)
  15. 46
    Captain America the Classic Years (Marvel Comics (Paperback)) (v. 1) by Joe Simon (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Trailblazing comics from a real-life Kavalier & Clay.
  16. 03
    Underworld by Don DeLillo (igorken)

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English (296)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (302)
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A great big compelling story about characters committed to enacting the so-called American Dream. A rich story with characters you can fall in love with and cheer for as they face life's up/downs. A crazy romp that's zany but seems true. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This was one of those books that was just a joy to read. Having been so involved in comic books on both the creative and retail sides for so long, I was enthralled by this story. ( )
  cvalin | Jan 24, 2016 |
Josef Kavalier is a young Jewish man living in Prague in the late 1930’s. His family arranges for him to immigrate to the US, where he meets his cousin, Sam Klayman. After his escape from Hitler, Joe’s only interest is earning enough money to get his family out of Europe. Sammy introduces him to the world of comic books, and together they create a wildly successful comic book hero called the Escapist. The Escapist is a reflection of Joe and Sammy’s interest in magic (especially Houdini’s escape acts), their own desire to escape from parts of their lives, and their feelings of helplessness when they realize that there is very little they can do to help the Jews of Europe. The book follows Joe and Sammy’s lives as World War II escalates in Europe, the US enters the war, and the country adapts during the generation after the war.

I know several people who have said they don’t like this book or can’t get through it, but I think it’s a pretty good book. There are a lot of things in it that I can identify with, such as the way Joe and Sammy project their own dreams into their superhero characters. Everybody imagines doing things that they know they can’t do in reality, and Joe and Sammy made their dreams and the dreams of a generation of boys come true in the pages of their comic books. I can understand how the average American felt completely powerless to do anything to stop the Nazis (especially before the US entered the war), and I can see how reading about superheroes who regularly save average citizens from villains would be a way to deal with these feelings of personal helplessness. I think most people can also identify with Joe and Sammy’s desire to escape reality and the various ways this is portrayed in the novel. I also really liked how the narrative was set up to subtly imply that this was a historical account of Joe’s life that was pieced together many years later, possibly after his comics achieved a cult following.

Even though I did like the major themes of the book and the way they were portrayed, the book is not particularly likeable in places. There are times when life gets pretty bad for Joe and Sammy, and it’s not fun to read about these parts of their lives. Also, while I flew through some parts of the book, others were really hard to get through for some reason. I kind of think that Chabon drug the story on too long, but I also think that it was necessary to show us as much of their lives as he did. When I finished the book, I wasn’t particularly fond of his ending the book at that point in the characters’ lives, but the more I think about it, the more it grows on me. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This book is about the amazing adventures of Joe Kavalier & Sammy Clayman, two Jewish cousins who escape the realities of a World War II era world into the world of comic books. Joe and Sam meet for the first time after Joe escapes out of Prague inside the box of a clay Golem. Joe’s family sacrifices everything to help get Joe into America, a sacrifice that hangs over his head throughout his life and becomes even more meaningful after he learns the fate of his family. Together the cousins form an unbreakable bond as they navigate the business and creative elements of the comic book world. The cousins create the Escapist, a comic book superhero whose power is the perpetual and seemingly impossible ability to escape all manner of situations. The Escapist is initially the means in which these two boys fight against Nazi Germany. Themes of escapism, art & creativity, friendship, family, love, are central to this book but ultimately it is a story of hope; hope through devastating life circumstances and hope that inspires and is developed through creative release of comic books & art. There are moments when hope seems lost as both characters face personal difficulties and Joe in particular seems lost to the world, but Chabon always brings us back to the message of hope at the end of the book.

I loved this book from the very beginning. I loved the tightly-written characters, the writing style, the mostly fast moving plot, and the way Chabon wraps up his story. Some of the scenes in this book are heartbreaking and there are moments when you lose faith in the protagonists but when you least expect it they pull through (they stop running and face there fears, obligations). The descriptions of the comic book world and the incorporation of real world facts about the world make it a fascinating read and truly immerses the reader in a world combining Jewish mysticism and Americana. I would recommend this book and look forward to re-reading it.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)
It's like a graphic novel inked in words and starring the author himself in the lead role: Wonder Boy.
This is definitely New York, the old-school version. In the fusion of dashing young men in fresh new $12 suits, the smell of newsprint and burned coffee and laundry, and the courage to face unrelenting evil with pluck and humor, Chabon has created an important work, a version of the 20th century both thrillingly recognizable and all his own.
added by ty1997 | editsalon.com, Amy Benfer (Sep 28, 2000)
Although suffused with tragedy, ''The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay'' proves to be a comic epic, generously optimistic about the human struggle for personal liberation.
With ''The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,'' Mr. Chabon has fashioned a big, ripe, excitingly imaginative novel and set it in the world of his grandfather, a New York City typographer at a plant where comics were printed... In loving if sometimes windy detail, since his great book is buried inside a larger and more meandering one, the prodigiously talented author of ''Wonder Boys'' leads readers into the world of Sam and Joe's pop collaboration.
Chabon is a genius --- there is no other way to describe his ability to blend Hitler, comic books, brotherhood, first love, fame and the pitfalls of celebrity, Brooklyn Jewish home life, the European struggle against the Third Reich, America's growing prosperity, and good-looking women who use their smarts and their curves to get ahead in the world together in such a cohesive, complete story.

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Michael Chabonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We have this history of impossible solutions for insoluble problems
--Will Eisner, in conversation
Wonderful escape!
--Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Wakefield"
To my father
The Gabrielov Family
First words
In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.
"We have the idea that our hearts, once broken, scar over with an indestructible tissue that prevents their ever breaking again in quite the same place."
"The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost that they might never have existed in the first place."
It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world - the reality - that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The novel follows the lives of the title characters, a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay—both Jewish—before, during, and after World War II. Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry during its "Golden Age."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312282990, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth's American Pastoral or Don DeLillo's Underworld, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a superb novel with epic sweep, spanning continents and eras, a masterwork by one of America's finest writers. It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun. The brilliant writing that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to John Cheever and Vladimir Nabokov is everywhere apparent in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon writes "like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader," wrote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times about Wonder Boys-and here he has created, in Joe Kavalier, a hero for the century. Annotation. With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth's American Pastoral or Don DeLillo's Underworld, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a superb novel with epic sweep, spanning continents and eras, a masterwork by one of America's finest writers.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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