Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, by Michael Chabon

This is the tale of two boys—one a kid from Brooklyn and one a refugee from Nazi controlled Prague—that create a superhero that rivals Superman. While comic books have a prominent place in the book (my favorite scene has Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and Bob Powell discussing Seduction of the Innocent in a diner named the Excelsior Cafeteria) this is by no means a lightweight pleasure read. A Pulitzer Prize winner, we experience the struggles of two talented Jewish boys coming of age in the intolerant times before World War II. These boys (the Kavalier and Clay of the title) struggle for acceptance throughout: first looking for acceptance as artists in what is considered (even today to a large degree) a kiddie medium, then for acceptance in a society with strong anti-homosexual and antisemitic beliefs, and finally internal acceptance, seeking forgiveness and understanding from themselves. Significant themes told with humor, style, and grace made for a truly unforgettable read. I had a hard time putting this book down, and highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a dramatic tale.

First Sentence:
In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.

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