Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | April 26, 2010

Kavalier & Clay – a review

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an epic novel, a rarity in today’s literary field, and an incredible breath of fresh air. I don’t know that I would have ever picked it up, but a close friend raved about it. I had tried reading one of Chabon’s other books (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) with no luck, but this one grabbed me from early on.

Kavalier & Clay tells the story of two young cousins who together successfully write comic books before, during and after WWII. It manages to mix the stories of these boys with Jewish history, a slightly revised history of comic books, and a fascination with Henry Houdini and magic itself while having two incredibly developed main characters.

Josef Kavalier is a Czech refugee who comes to NY to live with his aunt and cousin, Sammy Klayman. Kavalier has been trained as both an artist and as a magician and Klayman, whose professional name is Clay, has an obsessive love with comic books and a masterful ability to write the stories. Their main character in their body of work is the Escapist, created as a combination of Kavalier’s survivor’s guilt and Clay’s desire to escape his polio-stricken body and life in general.

Much of the beginning of the book has to do with their comic books and the business itself. Things truly change when Kavalier tries to save his younger brother and when Clay deals (or doesn’t deal) with his homosexuality.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I’m not a huge fan of comic books, although due to a love of Art Spiegelman’s books, I recognize that there is definitely more to them than meets the eye. But it had been a long time since I’ve read a book with the depth of Kavalier & Clay. I didn’t want the story to end.

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