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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 (1251 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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4.3 (1129 )
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Story
4.4 (1109 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    James 06-09-14
    James 06-09-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Adventures of a Fantasy Reader."

    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.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vivvian Lansky 06-09-14

    uesstudiowithmice

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Colacci’s SO Much Better in Abridged Version!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-29-14
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-29-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Brilliant!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Hampden, ME, United States 05-16-14
    Anne Hampden, ME, United States 05-16-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth the TIme"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie Olympia, Wa 04-24-14
    Jamie Olympia, Wa 04-24-14 Member Since 2013

    Jamie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrible Narration"
    What would have made The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay better?

    decent narration


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    couldn't listen


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    What a terrible, empty flat, almost mechanical voice. And apparently he thinks germans all sound like Count Dracula.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay?

    ?


    Any additional comments?

    This is my third purchase in two days with a terrible narrator. Up till now I've had great luck Very disappointing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emma Edina, Minnesota, United States 03-17-14
    Emma Edina, Minnesota, United States 03-17-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Good not great"
    Would you listen to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay again? Why?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scott 09-13-13
    scott 09-13-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brustar Beverly Hills, CA, United States 09-04-13
    Brustar Beverly Hills, CA, United States 09-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent ... but there's just one thing."

    Chabon creates a story and characters that are so real and so richly fleshed out that you are drawn into their lives and left hanging on his every word. Against an existential backdrop that would be more appropriate to a Gothic novel if it weren't true, his characters are almost Zelig-like in their interaction with historical events.

    Many of my friends who read the book had a difficult time dealing with the sentences that seem to go on as long as the trials and tribulations of the characters. But the audio version makes it not only an easy, but an emotionally compelling, way to spend 26 hours and 20 minutes of your life.

    I couldn't decide whether the narrator was terrific or terrible; and decided that he was a bit of both. On the one hand, it is generally quite enjoyable listening to him and he easily handles the frequently-convoluted prose in a way that mades it simple to follow the story. However, his accents are too often cringe-worthy. Joe Kavalier's Czechoslovakian accent, sounding more like a bad caricature of a Russian cab driver, almost ruined this richly drawn, romantic, character for me. Even worse, what the narrator did to Yiddish is what Hitler did to the Jews of Czechoslovakia. Chutzpah (which I am sure the narrator would have pronounced "joots-puh") can be a good thing, but trying to bluff/wing his way through "bubeleh", "kenehora", et al? Not so good.

    Memo to Audible - your narrators don't have to be fluent in all the languages appearing in a book, but they do have to have the common sense to ask for help when they encounter unfamiliar words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saoirse Palm Desert, CA, United States 07-29-13
    Saoirse Palm Desert, CA, United States 07-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Calgary, Alberta, Canada 06-08-13
    Steven Calgary, Alberta, Canada 06-08-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Seemed like a good idea but..."
    Would you try another book from Michael Chabon and/or David Colacci?

    I don't think so.


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

    No.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by David Colacci?

    Yes. He was OK.


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

    Not much of anything.


    Any additional comments?

    I grew up reading comics. I found a huge stack of them in the attic of my grandfather's old farm house and devoured them. As boys, my older brother being inspired by heroes in tights, talked me into jumping from our garage roof. I can connect with heroes but this story was about a couple of putzes that left me unconnected and unmoved.

    I really wanted to like it but I actually gritted my teeth and got through the book just out of stubborn determination. I probably learned not to give up on a bad situation from a cartoon character in a ridiculous costume. That's ironic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Karen
    London, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Entertaining and deeply moving"

    I love this book for the wonderful characters, richly-textured plot and the themes that develop in surprising ways throughout the book. The first time I read it I missed it terribly when it was over and became very cranky because I couldn't stand not having it in my life. I re-read it after 3 weeks. Since then, I've re-read parts of it numberless times and enjoy reading certain sections aloud to my friends. The audiobook is terrific. The variety of characters all sound authentic and it is in every way an experience that lives up to the quality of writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable"
    Would you listen to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay again? Why?

    Yes, its a long story with many parts. Worth a second visit.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The journey into the early years of the comic industry and the two main characters were strong.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Can't say. Spoiler.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lesleyboyd
    scarborough, United Kingdom
    7/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story - both moving and funny"

    I didn't like the look of the title and it was only through reading reviews that I gave it a go. Really glad I did. It is a super story, unusual, moving and funny. I like longer books and especially those that don't repeat themselves but keep the pace flowing - this is one of those. Interesting the unabridged is cheaper than the shorter abridged! Give it a go i'm sure you won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mr
    London, United Kingdom
    6/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I miss them"

    Finding a life affirming story from the holocaust Chabon gives us characters to love and admire. The end of the book leaves you missing them and wanting to know what happens next. Not bad for a book this long. It keeps you hooked. Sometimes laughing out loud sometimes deeply sorrowful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marion
    United Kingdom
    3/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sorry it ended"

    Fantastic, at least as good as reading the book, which I've also done. Definitely one to be regularly re listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bridget O'Brien
    1/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A book that rewards the more you listen"

    The story grew on me , the pace gentle though the plot and the characters went through the mill. I enjoyed the narration and became very fond of the principals. Just finished and sad to have done so but very satisfying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Bourne, Lincs, United Kingdom
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Refreshingly dfferent"
    What made the experience of listening to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay the most enjoyable?

    The story flowed well. It was interesting hearing about their lives.


    Have you listened to any of David Colacci’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Not heard any other books but would look out for them now


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Made me laugh at times


    Any additional comments?

    His is a story of how two young men develop during the 1930's and after. It was interesting hearing about life before the war and how events changed them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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