Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

By Michael Chabon

It's 1939 in New York. Two Jewish cousins in their late teens, Joe Kavalier a gifted artist who has recently escaped a Nazi controlled Prague and Sammy Clayman, later shortened to Clay, a Brooklyn native who can put together a great story, team up to break into the comic book industry. It's the golden age of the comic book hero. Although initially taken advantage of by their publisher, they make their way to fame and fortune. Their most notable creation is "The Escapist" whose villain is a loosely veiled parody of Hitler.
This is big book (636 pages to be exact), and it is a great work of literature (took the Pulitzer in 2001), but fear not faint of heart, it is in no way a heavy or difficult read. In fact, it almost dances. It's colorful and engaging with plenty of historical tags. Chabon paints a picture of mid-century New York that's easy to slip into and the characters are both three dimensional and likeable. The themes of escape and good vs evil occur in multiple levels. And I can't figure out how he managed this little piece of magic, but Chabon made an epoch novel read like a comic book. Check out what he has coming next at Biff! Zang! Pow!