I have read a lot of really great books but there are few that leave me wishing the book would never end. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is nearly 700 pages and I still wanted more. I was sad when it ended but the story was complete with no need to go on.
This was one of the four books Kyle selected for me as a birthday present back in May. I was unsure about it after reading the synopsis on the back because comic books aren’t really my ‘thing’. But it had won the Pulitzer and I am a sucker for accolades so I decided to jump in when I was ready for my next book.
The first thing I noticed was the author’s witty voice. The sentences felt like they belonged in a comic book. They had the personality and attitude to match the purpose of the sentence. There was no fluff, no unnecessary exaggerations; you got what you needed and nothing more. I hate overly descriptive books where the author takes four pages to paint a scene down the dust on furniture and was relieved that Chabon never once wasted my time with that crap. There was so much story on every page that even though it took me a while to read, it kept me so engaged that time flew right by.
Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are the two protagonists in this epic novel. Joe escaped from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia leaving behind his family in hopes of making enough money in America to pay their fair to join him. Sam, his cousin had big dreams of striking it rich by producing comic books but he has no artistic talent. The two join up, Joe illustrating while Sammy comes up with the storyline, to create a super successful series called The Escapist about a masked man who can escape from any bonding.
The relationship between the cousins is wholesome. Both are about the same age with similar interests (magic and especially Harry Houdini) and both desire to be successful even if it is for two seriously different reasons. They work together, and have a believable and authentic feeling relationship. I fell in love with the young men, whole heartedly wishing nothing but the best for them.
As the two become successful Joe is hit time and time again with the news of his family’s status. He saves every penny he can to help get them out of harm’s way even going so far as paying for the passage of other Jews to better the chances for his brother. Over the years Joe develops a relationship with Rosa which softens him some but the future of his family is always in the back of his mind.
Sammy was raised mostly by his mother while his father traveled in a circus like setting. Struggling with his own sexuality, a physical handicap, and the lackluster payout of his comic authorship dreams, Sammy cannot find a stream for direction in his life.
I just loved this book. This is the type that I wish I was still in DC with my book club ladies so we could discuss it. There was so much story and although I was reading it for what seemed like for-ev-er I still could not put it down. There were no dull moments, no characters I couldn’t stand, no sub-plots that didn’t connect, and no missed opportunities. There is so much to talk about but I do not want to give away any of the book so please believe me when I tell you that this book was great. Don’t be daunted by the length of this novel just pick up a copy and read it (you can thank me later).
After finishing I was doing a little research and discovered that The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist was actually made into a comic book in three parts which I quickly ordered and am now waiting on. Since I ordered them used from a private seller it will take a while for them to arrive but once they do I hope to devour them and write additional reviews.