Book Review


© 2001 Shawn Vidmar

 I could tell you about Michael Chabon’s coming of age story concerning two young Jewish cousins—one immigrant from Prague and one native Brooklyn—and their success in the golden age of comic books. Their Escapist, sharing the newsstand shelves with Superman, Batman & Robin and Spiderman, becomes a juggernaut for everyone involved, including Sammy Clay and Joe Kavalier.

I could reiterate their separate sad histories of escape and hardship. One as a young Jewish man in Prague on the eve of World War II and how his parents risked everything to get him out of Prague. The other is the son of a circus Strong Man who struggles with kinship for Joe and love of Jason Bacon. 

But I would rather tell you about the wonderful world of Kavalier & Clay that Michael Chabon has created. Like an uninked comic book, Chabon illustrates a tale of escapism, love and WWII America.

Chabon pixelizes his characters' environment with details and foreshadowing. So complete, the reader feels he knows these characters, it’s as if Chabon is merely describing an elaborate play unfolding in front of him. We witness and expect Rosa Sak’s unique personality to inspire Joe to introduce a winged & beautiful hero to the Escapist line while falling madly in love with her. We see Sammy struggle with his feelings for Joe, Rosa and Jason. Yet the intricacies of daily life, which aren’t necessarily written for us, also unfold as we assume the strong characters have lives of their own outside of the shifting lens of the Heidelberg Camera that brings their current story into focus.

Chabon brilliantly punctuates his text with famous events and people in history. He allows us to witness his characters reacting to them first hand: The Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, World War II, as well as meetings with Diego Rivera, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Houdini.

Yes, I’d love to tell you everything about this book that causes your imagination and historical knowledge to color in between the boldly inked lines of Michael Chabon’s narrative.  Bit I’d rather invite you to experience it for yourself.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars and praise The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as one of the most enjoyable reads I've encountered in several years. It has officially entered my top five lifetime favorite books.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Michael Chabon
ISBN 0-679-45004-1
pp 736

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