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Reviews of Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the (2001)

Review by Beaver (2007-11-24)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an interesting slice of life look at Jews in New York City during World War II with the comic book industry as a backdrop. The book is well-written but not deeply moving or very engrossing. The ending is pretty weak as well. The protagonists' comic book creation is The Escapist, and there are lots of heavy handed escapism life metaphors. 7/10

Review by Jago360 (2004-11-23)
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" is one of the most astonishingly compelling books I've ever had the privilege of reading. Chronicling the lives of two Jewish Americans, Josef Kavalieri and Sam Klayman, the book takes a reader on a dizzying tour of mid-century young American culture; but on the way, it accomplishes something even more significant. More than perhaps any book I've read, Michael Chabon's masterpiece succeeds in capturing the American spirit: not the false patriotism nor the indomitable cheeriness that dominates the modern description of Americanism, but rather a certain grim determination to see things through.

The novel deserves special recognition for its fusion of comics and reality; the Escapist is not just a superhero - he is Joe Kavalier himself, only instead of superhuman strength and swiftness, Joe uses his pen to liberate the world. This parallel between creator and creation never seems contrived; Chabon's flowing prose makes the story seem completely natural, from the opening lines to the book's resolution some six hundred pages later.

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" took me completely by surprise - I didn't know there were any contemporary writers who could create such a masterpiece. I believe the blurb on the cover of the paperback edition of the book says it best, claiming that "Kavalier & Clay" is "absolutely gosh-wow, super-colossal": it is a huge book that aims for the sky, and fulfills that lofty ambition in an entirely satisfying way.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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