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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (edition 2000)

by Michael Chabon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,748282152 (4.23)1 / 525
Member:5hrdrive
Title:The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Authors:Michael Chabon
Info:Picador (2000), Paperback, 639 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites, 2013
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, ww2, new york, pulitzer prize, award winner, tpb, 4.5

Work details

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Recently added bytdswjs, zshad, dyanny66, private library, d_137, FarihaImami, angelista, spartahiker, HL84
  1. 163
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    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.
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  5. 51
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  6. 20
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    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
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  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.
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  10. 33
    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (alzo)
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  12. 11
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  13. 46
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    artturnerjr: Trailblazing comics from a real-life Kavalier & Clay.
  14. 03
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English (276)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (282)
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
This is a book that's easy to see people giving up on, or getting confused by. Not that it's hard to follow, it's not. But your expectations will be played with, rewarded, and punished, at different times. Roll with it, and just enjoy. The impatient will at times be frustrated with seemingly pointless details crammed into many spaces, and I feel your pain. The rhythms of this book are like that of life, sometimes long periods are filled with tedium, other times the most meaningful or frightening moments last only a few seconds.

At times I found the prose of the book simply dazzling, a word I come back to again and again when thinking about this book. One section of the book is so daring in it's execution, I know I'll keep it in mind for the rest of my life.

Good sushi is a study of contrasts and complements. Several mild notes that alone amount to little, but together form a gentle, yet deeply touching experience, but just at the moment you are aware of this harmony, the acid bite of a single drop of vinegar, or the spicy slap of wasabi reminds you that a little contrast can show you what all that harmony is really for. This book, like sushi, might not be for everyone, but for those who are receptive, have a lot of "Umami" to look forward to. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
This is a book that's easy to see people giving up on, or getting confused by. Not that it's hard to follow, it's not. But your expectations will be played with, rewarded, and punished, at different times. Roll with it, and just enjoy. The impatient will at times be frustrated with seemingly pointless details crammed into many spaces, and I feel your pain. The rhythms of this book are like that of life, sometimes long periods are filled with tedium, other times the most meaningful or frightening moments last only a few seconds.

At times I found the prose of the book simply dazzling, a word I come back to again and again when thinking about this book. One section of the book is so daring in it's execution, I know I'll keep it in mind for the rest of my life.

Good sushi is a study of contrasts and complements. Several mild notes that alone amount to little, but together form a gentle, yet deeply touching experience, but just at the moment you are aware of this harmony, the acid bite of a single drop of vinegar, or the spicy slap of wasabi reminds you that a little contrast can show you what all that harmony is really for. This book, like sushi, might not be for everyone, but for those who are receptive, have a lot of "Umami" to look forward to. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
Books which introduce a supposed-masterpiece inside its universe always fill me with dread. Often they will describe the intricacies of what makes this piece of work so great or even give an excerpt and it is almost always inevitably excruciatingly bad. It makes me question the tastes of this universe and takes me out of the universe. Fortunately, Chabon created an entirely believable successful mise-en-abyme as well as a cast of characters and events which all thoroughly earned the Amazing descriptor in the title.

The book weaves together many themes, the most prominent of which is escapism (which, by the by, would make a very good high school English text study), against a rich backdrop of the golden age of comics and the second world war to represent - although I'm not American, but I can assume - the great American novel on that era.

What I enjoyed the most was the complementing friendship/partnership/brotherhood of Kavalier and Clay as well as Rosa's independence/feminism, the best example is her straight-up telling Sammy that she needs to get an abortion when Joe runs away unaware of her pregnancy. Of course, the book later reveals she doesn't which I understand as integral to the plot of the book - so that these kids who have thrived during the golden age of comics could now experience the downturn of comics and monotony and drudgery of daily life, just like everybody else! - but listen to her confidence!. Textual aspects of the book that I enjoyed include but are not limited to: the sprinkling of of some lesser-known vocabulary, Joe's English and the interspersing of comic hero origin stories.

The ending of the book was to be expected but I cannot decide whether it is a happy ending (quarter star off) everybody gets to do what they want or a sad ending (quarter star off)
- Sammy leaves behind everybody he knows so that he can live true to his sexuality but we as the reader knows homophobia is still prevalent fifty years after the book,
- Rosa loses her partnership with Sammy - yes, the marriage was just in name but they still lived and worked together for twelve years and raised a child together - to get back together with a consistent runaway man,
- Joe has left a string of bodies in his wake (harbinger of death?!) and has a tendency to run away - although granted, the problems he was running from were very overwhelming -, let us hope he and Rosa do not stumble into a rough patch, and
- Tommy is left by the only father he has had for twelve years
.

In any case, it is a hopeful ending which is as good as any to finish a book of this magnitude. ( )
  kitzyl | Oct 10, 2014 |
Mindless dialogue.
Doesn't know what of his research to leave out.
Unimaginative narrative style.
Weight of content thinned by rambling.
Pulitzer awarded on account of gayness, not genius.
3/4 of the way in you can't possibly give a damn about the characters because you just want it to be over.

Listen, this is not a matter of opinion. I think Chabon is a fine writer and a very good short story teller, but this book has look-at-me narrator (which I realize is intentional) that puts you at a distance from understanding these guys in any real way. This is because Chabon has something to say instead of, in this book at least, a story to tell. One of the reasons for the low rating is for his deliberate decision to pick "Something to say" narrative over "human conflict" narrative which brings it terribly close to being trash (which IS an opinion).

Another thing that pisses me off is Chabon's tendency to apologize at the end of his books. This guy always has something to tell you when the story is over which makes me think he needs to either qualify his work or make you got what you were supposed to get out of it. It's not direct, but the impression is left that he won't leave you alone when it's over because, well, he has one more thing he wants you to understand. Mike, if you can't work it into the book, perhaps it's better left alone. ( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
A fun read that evokes comic books stories well with brightly colored descriptions, heroes, evil-doers, and phenomenal adventures, also mixed with real-world problems such as racism, homophobia, corporate greed, and personal failure. It was a fun book, but I think it needed a bit of editing because it felt too long at times. A great book will never *feel* too long.

Another complaint I had was that you need a dictionary to read this book because the author uses some crazy obscure vocabulary sometimes. And I'm talking words I've never seen in all my years of reading elite/classic literary works. Maybe it was intentional, to make the novel more colorful and alien to the reader, but there were times it felt forced. ( )
1 vote dulcinea14 | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
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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References to this work on external resources.

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 7 descriptions

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