Tag: Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Posted August 21, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonTitle: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Goodreads)
Author: Michael Chabon
Narrator: David Colacci
Published: Fourth Estate, 2000
Pages: 659
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay follows the story of two Jewish cousins. Joe Kavalier is an artist that escapes occupied Czech to America where he meets writer Sam Clay. During the golden age of comics Kavalier and Clay become major players in the industry creating many comic book heroes including The Escapist. The superhero is a Nazi-busting saviour who liberates the oppressed around the world.

I’ve read Michael Chabon before and the thing I really enjoyed about his novels is that they are full of intertextual goodness. With The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, it blends his literary style with elements of alternative history and noir. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay blends with elements of the comic book genre. This is what impresses me the most with Chabon’s style and makes me keen to read The Telegraph Avenue (which I hope blends elements of music into his style). I wonder if all his books are full of intertextuality and will love to find some other novelists that do this; it really works for me but maybe it’s just my love for literary fiction and the genres he blends with it.

There is so much more going on with the novel. The Escapist is used to play out all Kavalier’s fantasies of being a magician/escape artist but he uses the comic books to spread his propaganda towards the Nazis. Most of this novel is set before World War II in America before the world really knew the extent of what the Third Reich were up to. Michael Chabon is a Jewish novelist and his heritage seems important to him and this comes through in his novel.

This novel deals with so many different literary themes; escape from oppression, coming of age, family and relationships. Just writing that sentence makes me think that Chabon might have over done it but really this book comes together beautifully. I don’t often use the terms like magnum opus and tour de force but having read the novel and people’s impressions of this book, it really seems to fit.

Kavalier and Clay become legends in the comic book world and as the world and industry changes, they are repeatedly asked to change and conform but they never compromise. They had a clear message they wanted to say and they refused to change that message. I’m impressed with everything about this book from the blending of comic books and its culture, Jewish mysticism and world history to the character development, proses and my overall opinion of the novel.

If you’ve never read a Michael Chabon novel then I recommend it; I’m not saying start with this novel but look for one with a theme that interests you. Out of the two I’ve read, I’ve been impressed with them both but I have to say The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is masterfully crafted and deserves all the praise it received. I have Telegraph Avenue on the shelf and I’m interested in trying Wonder Boys soon as well. The Escapist was made into a comic by Dark Horse Comics but I think it was part of a promotion for this book. Also the film rights for the book have been sold but with the luck it’s been having I’m doubtful it will ever be made.