Sunday, 11 May 2008

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was an instant popular and critical success when it came out in 2000 being nominated for a raft of awards. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001 and Hollywood has been sniffing around it ever since. Michael Chabon the author wrote the only known screenplay, which struggled to reduce a 635-page book to a 2-hour film. At one point, the cast was Toby Maguire (Peter in Spiderman) to play Sam Clay, Natalie Portman (V for Vendetta) to play Rosa Saks and Jude Law to play Joe Kavalier.

The difficulties for the film is what makes the book a joy as it starts in 1938 as Superman bursts on the scene and ends in 1954 as the Kefauver Senate hearings delivers the death blow to a declining comic book industry. A central theme is the roles of the Jews in the comic book industry: it explored the mythology of comic hero and its impact Joe and Sam own struggles and personal journeys form the stories of the Escapist which in turn shape their lives. Sam struggling to come to terms with being Gay and Joe trying to rescue his family stuck in an increasingly bleak Nazi run Prague. It also explores the historical rip off the artists and writers of the period. Superman’s creators did not come into the real money until the blockbuster Superman movies and a court case prised the money out of Hollywood’s coffers. Historical characters from the period from the comic industry and the movie, art and political world some in and out of the story. The Escapist also draws on Joe Kavalier’s training and experience of magic and Houdini type tricks and the impact this has on his life.

The writing is a tour deforce so that you hear, touch and smell the period. Each character has their own voice and even minor characters when they enter the story in a few paragraphs you have their back-story and motives seamlessly woven in so they become real characters. The point of view moves from character to character and no easy option or resolution is allowed as the story builds to the magic trick ending. Scenes are comic one minute and bitterly tragic the next as you join in the roller coaster of their lives. Yes I am going say it…if you only have the chance to read one book this year make it this one, you wont be disappointed.


  1. Hi, wanted to stop by. Found your blog on LT's Early Reviewers and have signed up for the fun Tuesday event! :) Thinging Through Tuesday

  2. Hi, found your blog on LT. I'm only just making my way around to everyone's blogs. I look forward to more of your reviews :)


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