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

by Michael Chabon

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13,345None162 (4.23)1 / 503
Member:zoomball
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:other novels, Historical Fiction
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

20th century (82) American (210) American literature (139) comic books (306) comics (528) contemporary (65) contemporary fiction (87) fiction (2,084) golem (69) historical fiction (300) Holocaust (118) homosexuality (77) Jewish (194) Jews (76) Judaism (95) literature (152) magic (59) New York (314) New York City (169) novel (325) own (84) Pulitzer (212) Pulitzer Prize (246) Pulitzer Prize Winner (65) read (207) superheroes (138) to-read (256) unread (112) USA (81) WWII (375)
  1. 162
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (Pagemistress)
  2. 102
    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. 72
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Othemts, questionablepotato)
  5. 51
    The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Othemts)
  6. 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
  7. 31
    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (tmspinks)
  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. 33
    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (alzo)
  11. 00
    Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (sturlington)
  12. 01
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Miranda_Paige)
  13. 46
    Captain America the Classic Years (Marvel Comics (Paperback)) (v. 1) by Joe Simon (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Trailblazing comics from a real-life Kavalier & Clay.
  14. 02
    Underworld by Don DeLillo (igorken)
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English (265)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (271)
Showing 1-5 of 265 (next | show all)
As World War Two is beginning to take shape, a Jewish family ushers their oldest son Josef out of Europe to live with his cousin Sammy in New York. While Sammy works for an ad agency, his real passion is in storytelling, more specifically, the booming medium of comic books. When he realizes Josef’s artistic talent, the two create The Escapist, a superhero to free people from the chains of oppression.

As the industry grows, so does their ambition. The two collaborate on creating additional heroes establishing themselves as a dynamic partnership. Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer prize winning epic tells the story of two men and their rise to cultural icons in 1940s America.

It’s not often that I stray from my comfort zone of thrillers, mysteries and comics but with the amount of praise heaped upon Chabon’s work, I thought I’d give it a shot. Afterall, the guy did write a draft for Spider-Man 2 and while only a supposed third of it was actually used, it is one of my favorite comic book movies. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s about comics to begin with as well as World War II, both of which I enjoy reading about more as time goes on.

Initially, I was a little worried. Chabon’s style seems to be in line with someone who could call himself a “wordsmith”. It almost felt at times like he was showing off in a way – trying too hard to differentiate his prose from other authors’. Look, I’m not criticizing Chabon for being “different” nor am I saying that it would’ve been nice if he “dumbed it down”; it just took some time for me as a reader to settle into his style. Once I did though, things flowed nicely.

I know it’s a fourteen year old novel and I’m not about to sail into spoiler territory here but I did feel it was a little on the long side and maybe it could have been edited somewhat more tightly. There were points where I felt the story dragged a little too much for my liking but it’s hard to argue against a novel that won a Pulitzer. Perhaps I’m a little thin on patience knowing I have a ton of books on my to-read pile.

These are minor complaints really. The story is certainly a great period piece (taking place in my favorite historical setting of the 30s through the 50s) and an instant classic. I’ll definitely be checking out more of his work. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Wow what a fun novel! I absolutely loved this novel. It takes skill to create such a diverse world centered around comic books and make grown adults feel as if they are not reading a "The history of Marvel Comics". I had so much fun with this book and cannot wait to read it again! ( )
  QueenAlyss | Mar 27, 2014 |
A mixture of a history of WWII and the comic industry...intriguing. ( )
  JK135 | Feb 24, 2014 |
This epic novel of the golden years of comics set in the late 30’s to the 50s is a story of not only the industry of comics but a people. The Jewish people who came to the United States or were unable to get out of Europe. It is a story of family and friendship. I think the author wrote about being Jewish and about WWII in a very unique way. While he did not depict the concentration camps and the horrible abuse he did tell the story through Joe. Joe was a young immigrant who escaped Europe by riding in a coffin with the Golem. This summarizes the book; On page 575: "Having lost his mother, father, brother, and grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history--his home--the usual charged leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf. He had escaped in his life from ropes, chains, boxes, bags, and crates, from handcuffs and shackles, from countries and regimes, from the arms of a woman who loved him, from crashed airplanes and an opiate addiction and from an entire frozen continent intent on causing his death. The escape from reality was, he felt--especially after the war--a worthy challenge." This book won the Pulitzer in 2001 and many other wards and rightfully so. Reading this book was a visit to a time in history. It was fun to read the different brands, movies, books, etc that are mentioned. If often felt like I was reading nonfiction. I enjoyed the characters in this story, they were interesting and well developed. This will be one of my favorite books this year. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
This epic novel of the golden years of comics set in the late 30’s to the 50s is a story of not only the industry of comics but a people. The Jewish people who came to the United States or were unable to get out of Europe. It is a story of family and friendship. I think the author wrote about being Jewish and about WWII in a very unique way. While he did not depict the concentration camps and the horrible abuse he did tell the story through Joe. Joe was a young immigrant who escaped Europe by riding in a coffin with the Golem. This summarizes the book; On page 575: "Having lost his mother, father, brother, and grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history--his home--the usual charged leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf. He had escaped in his life from ropes, chains, boxes, bags, and crates, from handcuffs and shackles, from countries and regimes, from the arms of a woman who loved him, from crashed airplanes and an opiate addiction and from an entire frozen continent intent on causing his death. The escape from reality was, he felt--especially after the war--a worthy challenge." This book won the Pulitzer in 2001 and many other wards and rightfully so. Reading this book was a visit to a time in history. It was fun to read the different brands, movies, books, etc that are mentioned. If often felt like I was reading nonfiction. I enjoyed the characters in this story, they were interesting and well developed. This will be one of my favorite books this year. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 265 (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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Epigraph
We have this history of impossible solutions for insoluble problems
--Will Eisner, in conversation
Wonderful escape!
--Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Wakefield"
Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:41 -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)

» see all 5 descriptions

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