The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
So I’m pretty sure that this is an amazing book. Sometimes I’m not sure that I should trust my own judgement about amazing books since I’m so enthusiastic about Batman comics, but this one won like… a Pulitzer so I’m pretty sure someone who’s more of an authority on the subject of awesome grown up books agrees.
Sam Clayman is a Jewish teenager in New York, an artist and comic book enthusiast, abandoned my his father, who lives with his mother and grandmother. Joe Kavalier is his cousin, who recently escaped Europe, leaving his parents and younger brother just as the second World War is beginning. Joe is also artist, and with Sam as the brains together they set out to create a comic book hero as successful as Superman. Based on Joe’s training as an escape artist, driven by his hatred for Nazis and Sam’s understanding of the genre they invent The Escapist.
The story starts in 1939 and reaches to about the 1950s.
The writing itself itself is really beautiful, the characters are great, the adventures are just wild enough to feel almost superpowered but real enough to feel possible and these complicated questions about what it means to escape, what people have to escape from and whether or not escaping is a responsible choice are all woven through the story in quirky, fun, thought provoking ways.
I think I’m going to talk about the love triangle just this once. Here there be spoilers. Sorry.
Joe’s love interest for most of the book is Rosa. The pair are passionately, deeply in love for most of their relationship and are almost perfect for each other. Sam, who’s struggling with his sexual orientation really loves Joe as well, although strictly asexually, but he is sometimes confused by his feelings of jealousy at Joe and Rosa’s relationship. Rosa is fond of Sam as well but it’s not until Joe runs away to join the navy, leaving Rosa pregnant that she really starts to love Sam, because he marries her and helps her raise Joe’s son. Of course, their relationship is platonic and Rosa knows that Sam is gay but their love for each other is real. It’s kind of a love triangle about loving versus being in love. Which is just kind of cool isn’t it?
Anyway, for a book that’s kind of escapist it asks a lot of questions about escapism. Sam trying to escape his identity, his relationship with the only person he ever really loves and the monotony of the life he chooses out of a sense of duty. Joe tries to escape from his survivor’s guilt, his failure to save his family and his absence from his son’s life. Never mind the number of times a character ties himself up in a box as a magic trick, this story is about what people will do to get away from their own lives.
And it’s excellent.
Last movie I watched: Still Hester.
Last TV episode I watched: A different Young Justice