Kavalier and Clay

I am playing a game of catch up for the next few pages and to make life easier I am going to paste Kate and Adam’s comments on the book we read back in November 2016 – The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay –  as I haven’t written a review for this book! In fact there are a number of books I have been rather neglectful of so be prepared for the onslaught of neglected books!

kavalier-and-klay

If my memory serves me well, this book was not well received at Book Club, maybe because of it being Christmas and everyone being so busy, this book was not an easy read! On the contrary, it is hard work and very easy to give up on which a number of us did but when you finally get into it – oh what a joy! I loved it! Here is a talented writer and researcher. Chabon did an excellent job integrating his vast knowledge of comic book history into The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and I thoroughly enjoyed the escapism! On the surface,  we are at the brink of WW2 when we meet two young men at the beginning of the golden age of comic books, who come together to create their own caped heroes,  most notably ‘The Escapist’. But then it hits you that the entire novel is about escape. Joe Kavalier a young Jewish artist escapes from Prague to the US just before the Nazi occupation where he teams up with his cousin Sam Clay. Sam is not as colourful a character as his European cousin but he also has his own life experiences from which he wants to escape. The novel tackles some serious social issues including the prejudice against the Jews as well as against homosexuals in those years. The characters are wonderfully brought to life  throughout this book and are interwoven with many historical people such as Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Stan Lee, and others. It is an extraordinary book. Beautiful characters, swashbuckling adventures, wonderful imagination and a roller coaster of emotions.  It unfolded like a flower!

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Adam’s review:

Kavalier and Clay has problems. The font size is minute, the amount of words I had to check in the dictionary would possibly be passed the triple-figure mark and it can be a bit slow. But I don’t even care. This book is remarkable. I can’t stop thinking about it. Hope everyone sticks with it!

Please let us know what you though of the book by leaving a comment on this page. Thank you.

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2 thoughts on “Kavalier and Clay

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

    Although this technically was not a book I chose, I did mention that it had been on my radar for some time and the group acquiesced to my suggestion. I am glad they did. I was entranced by Kavalier and Clay, the book and the characters themselves. As a fan of comic-book culture, I was naturally drawn to this book. I’ve read a decent amount of comics and seen most of the box-office-breaking blockbusters that have been released in the last 10-15 years but I didn’t really have much knowledge of the background work that goes into their creation. I knew that artists and writers were not the same people and that some creators had difficulty in attaining the approval to put their ideas onto the page. But Kavalier and Clay, although a work of fiction, delves into the guts of the issues (no pun intended).
    The best aspect of the book is the differing personalities of Joe and Sammy and how they affected each other and their lives. Josef’s story of his escape from Nazi-occupied Prague is a highlight, telling of Joe learning magic and escape artistry from an enigmatic old man as well as smuggling Jewish antiquities under the noses of the fascist regime. In such a deep novel about guilt and sexual identity, the author has here created a playful back-story that injects fun into the proceedings.
    Both Sam and Joe have massive difficulties they must face in their personal and professional lives and I strongly felt that Chabon did spectacularly well at making me care for the protagonists. A lot of novels underwrite their characters but I did not feel that way here. I think this is partly due to the unusual circumstances of their lives. The book is halfway between a serious drama (the loss of family and struggle for identity) and a wacky adventure (Josef and his unusual Antarctic farce) and this fleshes the characters out as real people with real problems and not just dry melodrama.
    I cannot put my finger on why but even though I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I didn’t quite fall in love with it. There was definitely something missing for me that I can’t explain. I know this doesn’t make a completely helpful review but at least it’s an honest one. I still say Kavalier and Clay is unmissable!

    4 out of 5.

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