Monday, February 25, 2008

Book Review- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon chronicles the lives of two men who start out in the comic book business in the years leading up to World War II. Joseph Kavalier is a Czech Jew who is smuggled out of Prague prior to World War II. We see his life growing up where he is trained as a magician specifically an escape artist. He ends up in Brooklyn living with his cousin Sam Clay and Sam's mother. Both Sam and Joe are artists and Sam is working at what is an early comic book company. The two of them create a new superhero, The Escapist, among a cast of other characters to populate their new comic book universe. Joe also falls in love with and has a long relationship with Rosa Saks, who becomes another of their comic book heroes, Luna Moth. The book follows Joe and Sam as they work in the early comic book business prior to World War II. It then progresses through WWII and then a bit after to finish up the story of these two and the comic book business of that era.

This is an interesting story which chronicles the Golden Age of Comics of the mid to late 1930 through the 1940s. Since I am not a huge comic book collector, it was interesting to see the way in which many of the comics began and the rise in popularity of comic books. This book also looks at the ways in which the comic book artists and writers did not benefit from the rise in the comic sales to th same extent as those who were in the management offices of the companies. Also the way in which the nation was reacting to the rise of fascism through the superheroes fighting the Nazis even prior to the eventual entering of the United States into WWII.

It took me a while to really get into this book as I just couldn't seem to find the time to sit down and really read it, but once I did, I really liked it and had no problems reading forty to fifty pages at a sitting. This was generally a light book that kept moving well with some slow parts toward the middle where the story deviates away from the comic book business and Joe Kavalier has to deal with some of his own personal demons. Overall, it was a good book that was fun to read.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I loved that book. It's the only one of his that I've read.

Comrade Kevin said...

I tried SO hard to get into that book and got about seventy pages in, then quit. It's a shame. I wanted to like it so much.

FranIAm said...

That is not a book that I could get into, but I will say I loved two of his other books, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

It is also a challenge to get into, but rich once in. I think it would be hard for people with no exposure to Jewish life to really understand and it has very liberal use of Yiddish.