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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay | [Michael Chabon]

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's 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 partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, they create the Escapist.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2001

It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's 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 partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book.

Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and the otherworldly Mistress of the Night, Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. The golden age of comic books has begun, even as the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a stunning novel of endless comic invention and unforgettable characters, written in the exhilarating prose that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to Cheever and Nabokov. In Joe Kavalier, Chabon has created a hero for the century.

©2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Michael Chabon can write like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader with their beauty and their style." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-07-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-07-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "estes kefauver was just plain wrong"

    ? how do you find hope and humor in the midst of despair
    ? how can you remain optimistic in the face of tragedy and grief
    michael chabon has written a flowing, literary and magical answer

    in the mid-50's senator estes kefauver attacked comic books
    his claims of their unamerican nature couldn't have been more wrong
    they were paradoxically the most american of all literary forms

    they encapsulated all the 20th century american contradictions
    old world VERSUS new world
    sexual repression VERSUS gender liberation
    escape VERSUS settling down
    nebbish immigrants VERSUS homegrown super heroes
    rural midwestern virtues VERSUS complex urban skills
    jews VERSUS gentiles
    nation with immigrants VERSUS nation of immigrants

    this wonderful tale is wrapped in erudite and elegant prose
    more than once i paused the recording to look up a word in the dictionary
    but chabon has a relentless affection for human nature and weakness

    the story is told with a beautiful affection and insight
    the characters are simultaneously so human and so noble
    it takes ordinary difficult lives and makes them amazing adventures








    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 11-24-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 11-24-12 Member Since 2009

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb, Original and BAM!"

    This is a wonderful story perfectly read. I would say no more but would fail to meet the Audible review requirements!

    There is some real history here---read also The Ten Cent Plague---wrapped around the stories of two cousins. The stories are tragic but not overly depressing. The author somewhat gets us to a happy place by the end---not a perfect story book ending but that would demean some of the serious points this book makes. I love books that build compassion for people.

    I have around 1500 audio books in my library. When I finish something really, really good, it can be insanely difficult to start, or rather get into, a new book. If you find yourself in that position, here you go! I had to listen to the first half hour a couple of times and then I was completely hooked.

    Highly recommend.

    Chris Reich

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew New York, NY, United States 07-16-12
    Andrew New York, NY, United States 07-16-12 Member Since 2002
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    "I keed, I keed! It's a brilliant novel."

    Kavalier & Clay is possibly the best modern Bildungsroman I've ever encountered. The story and character development are gloriously nuanced, taking the two main characters from Prague to Brooklyn and then from Manhattan to Antarctica and back again, all the while describing personal evolutions that are neither neat nor linear. It is the sort of book that I plan to re-visit.

    When I do, I'll probably buy the print version. This has everything to do with David Colacci's reading. While he is great at pacing and expression, his voice for Joe Kavalier makes him sound exactly like Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog.

    It's an image I couldn't get out of my head while listening: All I could imagine is Joe as a rubber hand puppet. And frankly, that kind of distraction does a terrible disservice to Chabon's text.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jim lara 02-12-15
    jim lara 02-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "I don't understand all the excitement"

    This book was ok. The performance was great but it was still a boring story that goes off on tangents. I like some of Chabons other books, and I know this is supposedly his masterpiece, but I found it overwritten. This is not brilliant, it's an authors attempt at brilliance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mim HUGHENDEN, Australia 07-01-13
    Mim HUGHENDEN, Australia 07-01-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Said, said, said, said, said, said, said!"

    I am sure I would have liked this story, the premise sounded great, but after 23 minutes of every piece of dialogue ending with said I just couldn't stand it any more. If that doesn't worry you, give it a go.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-15-13
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-15-13 Member Since 2015
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    "I Want The ROsa To My Joe..."
    Any additional comments?

    This is a beautifully written, richly imagined story that ties in real world historical events into to the fictitious world that the characters live in. The relationships between Joe and Sam, between Joe and ROsa, and between Sam and Tracy are complex and dynamic thins that kept me hooked. I absolutely loved this book and was thrilled when I saw that Audible finally had an unabridged version of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 08-29-12
    KP Oakland, CA 08-29-12 Member Since 2012

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Writer with a LOOOONG book..."

    Other than being way too long, this was a pretty good book! I really like the ending and felt a great affection for the characters by then. The writing was terrific. Chabon's is great at characterization. His use of imagery is fantastic, as evidenced by this passage about Rosa's letters to Joe after he left her.

    "(Joe)... took out the thick sheaf of letters that he had received from Rosa after his enlistment at the end of 1941. The letters had followed him, irregularly but steadily, from basic training at Newport, Rhode Island, to the navy's polar training station at Thule, Greenland, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he had spent the fall of 1943 as the Kelvinator mission was assembled. After that, as no reply from their addressee was ever forthcoming, there had been no more letters. Her correspondence had been like the pumping of a heart into a severed artery, wild and incessant at first, then slowing with a kind of muscular reluctance to a stream that became a trickle and finally ceased; the heart had stopped."

    The history of comic books in America was interesting, and I liked the way he connected a variety of themes to that history. Mostly, these themes centered on the idea of ESCAPE. For example, Chabon showed Sammy and Joe working tirelessly for the Jews' escape from Hitler's bondage in their "The Escapist" comic books, Sammy finding himself and beginning to escape the bonds of America's prejudices toward gays, and Joe escaping from his "survivor guilt" after his immigration to America as well as working for his little brother's escape from Prague, and also Joe's escape from Rosa after what happens to Tommy.

    Chabon showed a caustic sense of humor, too. For example when the name of the bedroom assigned to the gay lovers is revealed as "Ramcock." There were lots more examples, and I chuckled out loud quite a few times.

    I felt so touched by the close bonds between the main characters at the end and they way they dealt with the way their lives had unfolded. I just wish Chabon had left out the whole episode of Joe enlisting in the Navy and traveling to Antarctica. That was over the top and way too drawn out. Other episodes could have been edited out or cut down as well, and then the book would have made a bigger impact. (You're probably thinking the same thing about this review, if you got this far :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-25-12
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-25-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Great fan of Michael Chabon"

    So glad to find this unabridged version of Kavalier and Clay. I read the novel several years ago and loved it then. The narration is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly-o Seattle 07-03-12
    Molly-o Seattle 07-03-12 Member Since 2007

    English major. Love to read

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How did I miss this one?"

    Somehow I wasn't paying attention when people were reading this book and raving about it. Now that I have read it, many of my literary friends are looking at me and saying -- "of course I have read it, it's fabulous!" My silly response is "why didn't you tell me?" I think this all points to the fact that I truly love reading a book that takes me somewhere else. whose words I relish over and over and whose characters I just simply miss at the end of the reading. This is such a story - not to be missed. As a matter of fact, just download it now because you won't be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 08-22-13
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why ruin a good story with sex?"
    Would you try another book from Michael Chabon and/or David Colacci?

    No, never if written by Michael Chabon.


    Has The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    What does David Colacci bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Well read


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Too much detail about the sex life of Kavalier (hetero) and Clay (homo) ruined for me what otherwise had the potential to be a great story.


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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