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)
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.
No, never if written by Michael Chabon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't think so.
Yes. He was OK.
Not much of anything.
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.
Yes. This touched on many aspects of the human experience: family, heritage, sharing, adventure.
The best scene was the bungee jumping scene. It included the adventure of our hero with his creativity and ability to find new solutions and tricks.
The part I loved the best is also the part I loved the least. That is, the writing style is full of parenthetical, multi-phrased sentences bulging with allusions that, had David Colacci not been the excellent narrator he is, would have left me confused. At times, I marveled at the unique metaphorical descriptions that so vividly drew a picture. At other times, I either didn't get the reference or it was mentally taxing to listen to. If the listener doesn't have a solid broad grasp of culture, history, and literature, the writing is wasted. Overall, I ended up loving this book but there were times I wasn't sure.
Yes but it's too long to even attempt!
It is hard to categorize this book and is not something I normally would have purchased. I listened to everything else in my library before this one but the intelligent writing, characters and ultimately the story won me over.
When Joe Kavalier escapes to the states- the description of his journey with twists and turns and improbable luck (both bad and good) is absorbing.
It's also true, the first conversation between Sammy and Joe as they walk along the street discussing potential characters is really fun.
Joe Kavalier is memorable because he works with what he has- the challenge of getting his family out of Europe, the challenge of making a life in the US, the desire to fight the Nazi regime even when those around him are not ready. A remarkable artist who made a difference.
Maybe, I don't tend to re-read anything.
Just following the characters through life. Being happy for them and sad with them and even disappointed in their decisions.
Sam and Joe were equally enjoyable. I really felt myself rooting for them to succeed.
This book made me laugh and cry.
A great book and a great narration. It was long so it lasted awhile but not boring. The information about the comic books was interesting too. I was hesitant to download because I'm not a comic book fan, but Im so glad I did this book was about so much more. I did have to make sure I was paying attention or else I would get lost and miss transitions.
i like to read. i like to listen.
i had a tough time with this book. michael chabon has an interesting way of writing...complex and well researched and very detailed. but sometimes i think this is too much. sometimes his research is too much. i feel like there's just so much information on a certain subject that i need to read about when i'm in a novel. sometimes i just want the story....not the facts behind it. do you know what i mean?
i loved the characters in this book. i think chabon creates the best, most interesting, likeable characters. they have faults, but they are so real...both Sam and Joe were perfectly written. exactly what and who i wanted them to be. but the book gets so muddled, and i feel like the characters never go anywhere...in their growth as people, in their beliefs, in their relationships. i needed more.
i was talking to another reader, and she quipped that "maybe reading one book by Chabon is great, the next becomes a trial!" -- but i agree with her. i think when i read Telegraph Avenue, i was blown away by the newness of chabon's manner of writing...i was surprised and excited by the facts and histories of every single person and area and theme that he introduced into the story. but moving onto this novel...(i know i went backwards)...i got overloaded by it. too much info, chabon. maybe one is enough. i should have quit while he was ahead!
I loved being in Kavalier & Clay's world. David Colacci's reading captures it perfectly. What a great, great book!
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