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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

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (696 )
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4.4 (610 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bethann McLaren Toronto, Ontario, Canada 12-06-13
    Bethann McLaren Toronto, Ontario, Canada 12-06-13 Member Since 2008

    Farm girl, voracious reader, lover of wine & whiskey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I feel like I should have loved it, but..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I might. I know for good reason a lot of people that are not me really love this book. I am a BA, MA English graduate and I feel slightly guilty for not enjoying it more than I did. It's certainly well-written and the characters well crafted. I personally, though, just never really fell in love with the book. I found myself anxious for the book to be over so I could start reading something else. There were bits and pieces that moved me and I will always remember, but I can't say that for the book as a whole.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scott waban, MA, United States 09-13-13
    scott waban, MA, United States 09-13-13 Member Since 2005
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    "A masterpiece."

    This is a beautifully written novel with very human characters who are brilliantly brought to life in this audio production. The heading for my review, 'masterpiece,' says it all though. Having listened to well over 200 audio titles, this is one of my top five.

    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 2001
    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saoirse LONG BEACH, CA, United States 07-29-13
    Saoirse LONG BEACH, CA, United States 07-29-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Melodramatic and a little sadistic"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Colacci could have used better voices. Some of the accents were thick and the reading was stiff, and I disliked the voices he used for the women and a gay character, Tracy Bacon. It didn't seem like what the character should sound like, and was a little insultingly faye.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Chabon’s story?

    A lot of things happen that are improbable and almost sadistic towards the characters. A long line of improbably awful things happen without much to counterbalance it, and it becomes a chore to read. Additionally, as a comics fan I just sat there and felt annoyed because the characters were being lauded for being the "first" people to do things with comics that Jack Kirby and Will Eisner did, and it felt like bad forties fanfiction.

    Additionally, this might have been meant to be a reflection of the writing of the time, but female characters were distressingly hard to come by. The only two prominent women are one character's mother and another's girlfriend, with unnecessary sexual details given about both. They barely existed outside of their attachments to the men in their lives, and never spoke to other women.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by David Colacci?

    Possibly. His narration is a bit dry, and I wasn't crazy about the way he did some of the voices, but I wouldn't forgo an audiobook just because he was narrating.


    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 2010
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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 2006

    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
  •  
    Music Man New York, NY, United States 08-06-12
    Music Man New York, NY, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2012

    I am a New York musician, a New York native, and a passionate reader of fiction. Audible is helping me fill in some serious literary gaps.

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    "Masterful on every level"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay to be better than the print version?

    I am new to audiobooks and am reveling in their power. I'd picked up "Kavalier and Clay" several years ago and gotten bogged down by the sheer size of the volume--a real doorstop of a novel. But I'd always wanted to read it, and am grateful for this superb audio version. In that sense: yes, the audiobook was better for me than the print book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The historical sweep, the sense of what World War II meant to Americans and Europeans on a personal, experiential level, the complexity and reality of the characters, and (as always with Chabon) the delicacy, respect, and sensuality with which he treats gay characters. I'm not sure where this straight author's fascination with homosexuality comes from, but he is one of the greatest of our "gay" writers. He dramatizes the struggles of Jewish people and the struggles of gay people with an almost uncanny empathy.


    Which character – as performed by David Colacci – was your favorite?

    David Colacci nailed everyone, but his portrayal of Joe Kavalier took my breath away.


    Any additional comments?

    "K & C" has the sweep and depth of a classic nineteenth-century novel--a book of great intelligence, imagination, and depth.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-25-12
    Linda B. San Francisco, Ca 07-25-12 Member Since 2009
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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
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