Tuesday, July 5, 2011

book review

This is the book that got me interested in comic books and superheroes. Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay follows two Jewish cousins in the comic book industry, beginning in the late 1930s. Joe Kavalier, a talented artist who trained as an escape artist as well, has just escaped Prague with his life and is desperate to earn enough money to get his family to the safety of America. He comes to stay with his American-born cousin, Sammy Clayman, shortened American-style to Sam Clay, who has grown up feasting on comic books. The story follows their creation of the character The Escapist and several others along a deeply researched, vividly written tour that brings them through a war and into the 1950s. The popular and national history of America shifts into context as the cousins struggle through pre-war Brooklyn, a cut-throat industry, war-time Antartica, and the stasis of 1950s suburbia. It's a series of escapes, of flights of Sam's imagination.

I first heard this book on audio book 4-5 years ago. I don't recommend that approach. The tendency of each chapter to start off as though presenting a whole new world, combined with the fact that it was unfortunately abridged, left me feeling pretty confused. Still, I kept thinking about the book and its comic book background--enough to make me buy the book this summer. I remembered so many scenes as I read them--vivid imagination and writing style at work. Enjoy!

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