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.
"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)
The story was engrossing and the narration truly brought it to life. I have thought about reading this book for awhile since I really liked another Michael Chabon book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, but thought I would not find it interesting as I am not into comic books. Not only was that not an issue, it made me want to read comic books. Highly recommend!
I am certain I will listen to The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay again. All of my long reading life, I have thought that, for the most part, a book worth reading is worth rereading.
The first meeting of the title characters is memorable. Two men in their teens, first cousins but strangers, have an instant rapport with each other and with the reader.
It's hard to pick one favorite, but the scenes of the early love affair of Joseph Kavalier and Rosa Sachs are beautiful.
There are four memorable characters. Three are young adults at the beginning of the story. The fourth is not yet born. He is the offspring of the poignant and powerful relationship among the three.
Once in a very long while, one finds a novel that settles deeply in the heart and stays there forever. For me, the first one of these was "Little Women." The second was "Huckleberry Finn." As an adult, one such was "Little Big" by John Crowley. Another was "The Children of Violence" series by Doris Lessing. Also the "Canopus in Argos" series by the same writer. I expect "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" will be another one that is with me forever.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Michael Chabon is one of those writers that has been recommended to me and I have been meaning to read for a while. I didn’t really know anything about it, but The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000 so it seemed like a good choice when I saw it on sale a while back.
Joe Kavalier escapes out of Prague just before World War II breaks out and moves in with his Aunt and cousin Sam Clayman in New York City. Sam finds out that Joe is an artist and together with Sam primarily writing and Joe primarily drawing, they become the great comic book writing duo of Kavalier and Clay.
Their main comic book hero, the Escapist has great success, but World War II breaks out and things that have been going well, no longer are going well.
I really do not want to give away the story, but it is a wide ranging story. There is war, love, death, family, magic and more. Chabon is a great descriptive writer and this is a long book, but I was engaged virtually the entire time.
Toward the last third of the book I started getting a bit frustrated because it seemed everything was going wrong. But at the end I was also a bit frustrated because the book was wrapped up a little too nicely.
I have zero regrets that I read it. It is one of my favorite books I have read this year and I will totally read more books by Chabon. But endings are hard and it seems to me more and more that there are really very few good endings.
originally published on my blog at Bookwi.se
Hopefully this gets easier, but I'll preface this review with what I stated in my title. I have read sci-fi/fantasy books almost exclusively. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" was my first full foray into Fiction. That being said, I think this was a great intro book for a person of my "type". It was accessible to me, with it's Comic Book and Magic Trick undertones, yet it introduced me to the mixing of non-fiction and fictional events. Which is obviously common in this genre, but was new to me. I would recommend this book to anyone really. It's a solid listen/read.
I was surprised by Chabon, probably mostly related to the fact that I'd never read a book outside of the Fantasy genre before, but I found his command of description entrancing. He obviously had a lot of real life elements that he could use to help him, but it was detailed and familiar in it's presentation. A thing wasn't just a thing, it was almost alive the way he presented it, the lamps, the lights, the sky, all of it. It would be what I might expect a detective "noire" to read like.
For years I listened to the Abridged version, blissfully unaware that it was abridged. It has been so much my favorite that I have listened to it easily hundreds of times, delighting in David Colacci’s masterful pacing, accents, and just overall verve—a perfect match for the story and characters.
Then, the other day, I heard a reading on Selected Shorts from the book that I could not place. THIS is from my favorite book? I thought. I went to look it up and, sure enough, I was listening to the abridged version! How thrilled I was to realize there were 16 more hours of magnificent story out there! So excited!
Well, color me bummed out. All of my favorite things about Colacci’s performance the first time around are just ruined. He’s slow, disconnected from the story, and all the accents are really off. The bottom line is, the humor is missing. Scenes that used to be hilarious between Sammy and Joe are now labored. Joe’s accent has gone from eastern European to straight-up Transylvanian and it’s genuinely annoying.
So disappointed… heartbroken, really. I’ll continuing slogging through the book, but… I mean, I wonder if the publisher would consider a do-over? This recording sounds like they clonked Colacci over the head and dragged him into the recording booth to make the unabridged version with a gun to his head. I love Colacci and on the strength of the Abridged recording have listened to several other books just because he’s the reader. I know he can do better this and a book as wonderful as this one deserves the best!
This is a wonderful novel, funny and poignant, imaginative yet grounded in history. One of the best contemporary novels I've ever read. The narration is excellent.
Although it took me awhile to get through this, I am glad I stayed with it. There were times I would get lost in one aspect of the story line and forget where it was going and suddenly we were back in NYC. What a whirl wind time in history between 1938 - 1958. I so wanted Sammy to figure out life and be happy.
What a terrible, empty flat, almost mechanical voice. And apparently he thinks germans all sound like Count Dracula.
This is my third purchase in two days with a terrible narrator. Up till now I've had great luck Very disappointing.
I had really high hopes for this book. I know it was supposed to have a comic feel, but I felt like the narrator dragged it out very slowly. He has a great voice, but I think I would have enjoyed this more had I read it. The voices were very well done, just the pacing grated on me.
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.
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