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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Amazing!
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" is a work that's difficult to describe. The 600+ pages cover the years from 1937 until 1954 in the lives of Josef Kavalier and Sammy Clayman, two Jewish cousins and best friends. Kavalier flees Prague in 1937 under intriguing circumstances (that are too good to give away), and ends up with Sammy's family (Sammy's mother and...
Published on May 27 2005 by Derrick Caldwell

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Colossal Bore
To be honest I couldn't even finish this book.
I'm a comic book collector. My brother is a comic book writer. I know comic books. I know the history of comic books.
I also know this book is boring and is uninteresting after the boys get their comic book career off the ground.
Also, call me "homophobic", but does the author have to put a homosexual writer...
Published on March 25 2003


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Amazing!, May 27 2005
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" is a work that's difficult to describe. The 600+ pages cover the years from 1937 until 1954 in the lives of Josef Kavalier and Sammy Clayman, two Jewish cousins and best friends. Kavalier flees Prague in 1937 under intriguing circumstances (that are too good to give away), and ends up with Sammy's family (Sammy's mother and both boys' grandmother) in New York City. They're poor, they're approximately the same age (17 at the beginning of the novel), and they both have dreams of bringing the rest of Josef's family to America before the anti-Semitism burbling in Central Europe does more harm to the family.
Through happenstance, careful planning, and skill, the two boys end up creating a super hero comic book. Their hero, "The Escapist," fights crimes with the talents of an escape artist (a career that Joe once aspired to) and eventually superhuman strength. He wears a mask (of course), and a blue suit with a gold key emblem emblazoned on his chest. The book uses as a template the careers of many Golden Age comic book artists, but especially that of Siegel and Schuster, the creators of the greatest of all, Superman. Joe and Sammy work together, and The Escapist is catapulted to the top of the comics heap, originally conceived as a Nazi-fighter (before fighting Nazis was cool) and an outlet for Joe's rage and impotence, and an outlet for Sammy's creativity. They build up an entire comics company, Empire Comics, and their fights with editors, radio producers, and serial producers fuel the need for conflict in the book--as there aren't many between these two friends.
The novel follows them and their comic book creation through World War II, and into the 1950's...and it's not a smooth ride for anyone. It involves marriage, children, mysterious disappearances, and cameos from the elite of the time--everyone from Orson Welles to Salvador Dali (who nearly drowns at a "surrealist party"....and he doesn't drown in water...or even liquid for that matter) shows up, along with a Jewish Golem, Eleanor Roosevelt, and eight enormous braided rubber bands. We travel to many locations, the most exotic I've seen in a terrestrial book, but I don't want to give them away, because the locales themselves are major twists of the plot.
Now, just because this is ostensibly about comic books, many of you will be turned off--don't be. That's like saying you're not interested in "Death of a Salesman" because you don't like...uh...sales. The book is about human experience--about love, death, fear, regret, longing...but the two major players (of many) happen to be a comic book writer and artist. Now, if you happen to BE a fan of comic books, you'll love the scenes where comic books are discussed--Chabon references the Greats of all time: Schuster and Siegel themselves, Bob Kane, Gil Kane, Gardner Fox, Milton Caniff, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee....and uses them sparingly (for non-fans), but some of you may recognize the creators of Li'l Orphan Annie, Superman, Batman, Flash, Hawkman, The Human Torch, Captain America, The Sub-Mariner...this truly WAS a Golden Age; and although Chabon is careful to point out that "Golden Ages always seem to be in the past," he also says this was indeed a golden time for these people. So recently out of the Depression, not yet subjected to the full horrors of World War II, the bulk of the book is suffused with a hope that transcends the material.
Now, let's just say you're not a fan of Super-Heroes, of Escape Artists, of New York City, of the 1940's, or of Jews. Why on earth are you still reading this review? And why should you pick up "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?" This is quite honestly the BEST novel I've read in a long time, possibly years. There were moments that made my eyes well up with tears, and scenes that had me laughing out loud. Chabon is literate, and has a beautiful style. His vocabulary is enormous, and it was delightful to read a novel that had words in it that I had to actually look up--or gather meaning from context. It was such a wonderful, active, immersing experience to read this book.
I give it my absolute highest recommendation. It made me want to create something important. Something lasting. Something I can be proud of. And I already have the cutest baby ever made, but this made me want to get out there and LIVE. This is a joyous (even when heartbreaking) book that you should make a part of your library. Read it. Another quick recommendation: "The Losers Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez -- a much shorter but lively, very entertaining book I enjoyed .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Kavalier And Clay: A Letter From A Fan, May 23 2013
By 
Scoopriches (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
Dear Mr Kavalier and Mr Clay

I would like to start off by saying what an incredible honour it is, as a life long fan of The Escapist, to write to both of my childhood heroes. My excitement is only outmatched by my recent completion of that fantastic autobiography, and winner of the coveted Pulitzer Prize, all about your lives and creative history. It is truly a wonderful book of pulse pounding thrills and incredible human drama, with tons of behind the scene craziness.

But darn it all, I still wonder how The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay, written and researched by the fantastic Mr. Michael Chabon ever came out. And I am not just talking about its over 600 hefty pages of glory, or the occasional informative footnote, but the amount of information, both private and public, that you both reveal is astonishing.

I gobbled this book down, all because it told the complete story of how you, Mr Joseph Kavalier and My Sam Clay, created the greatest comic book character of them all, The Escapist. From that first fateful meeting, late one night in 1930’s New York, to your walk the next day that gave the world your greatest gift, almost everything is chronicled.

In fact the massive detail put into virtually all aspects of how The Escapist, and almost all of your other wonderful creations, came about is fantastic. Even the parts about the ones you helped make are amazing. I knew your fingerprints were on those characters as well, just like the legends and lore had suggested!

And the astonishing, prolonged, flashback telling the often hinted about tale of how Mr. Kavalier escaped the prosecution of his people in Europe, and the long and winding road that brought you to your cousins, Mr Clay’s doorstep. So many psychological implications to all to all these sensational adventures! My mind raced to connect the dots to all your other published works, just to try to guess their origins. And Mr. Clay, the smaller flashbacks about your time growing up in New York were equally thrilling, with the performing aspect you imputed into The Escapist being part of your DNA. The casual fan might attribute this to Mr. Kavalier and his stage magician training, but only diehards like myself can see where it really came from.

After the play is all set and your famous character is about to premiere, Mr. Chabon does the mighty yet again by gently moving us fans forward in the narratives in your impressive lives. All these myriad and uncanny details of those early fun adventures in that oh so young industry brings about the most fantastic tingles in my Geek senses. While the comics are undoubtedly thrilling, these true life, and sometimes two-fisted tales, of life before Pearl Harbour provides so much context for the unparalleled creativity you both exhibited.

The old and familiar adage that real life is stranger than fiction becomes even more apparent as time marches on in your lives. I was thoroughly caught off guard by all the later developments in your journeys. By the end of this suspenseful trip so many secrets and lies are revealed, some predating the start of your marvelous collaborations, that it is amazing this story is not labeled as fiction.

Much of the credit for the verisimilitude of your biography goes to Mr. Chabon. The author has done a wonderful job researching all these thousands of facts, getting everyone to open up so very much, and weaving it all together into a complete, detailed, and metaphor laded narrative. Mr. Chabon must be a real detective, comics piled up all the place, in order to get all this geek history right.

Some of my friends have argued with me, both online and off, that your tale is very similar, at the beginning at least, to the famous story of the creators of Superman. While I do see some parallels with Mr. Siegel and Mr. Shuster, anyone who gets past the first hundred pages or so can tell the difference. No slight to those mighty giants, both no longer with us unfortunately, but Kavalier and Clay are more a pure world parables of what might have been. Or does that explanation sound to fanboyishness?

With all that said, I still greatly enjoyed the crossover event in the late 1970’s between The Escapist and Superman. It was wonderful for you two to return and work on the comic with Siegel and Shuster, all to tie into the major motion pictures featuring these wonderful characters. And Paul Newman was such a fantastic Escapist! Having Tracy Bacon play Max Mayflower was also a stroke of genius and brought tears to this fan’s eyes.

But one of the main reasons for this long drooling (I admit it) letter was to ask a favour. Is it possible for me to send copies of Mr. Chabon’s book AND the Masterwork Archives edition of The Escapist for you both to sign? I know it is a lot to ask, but I am an even huger fan than ever before, all thanks to now knowing the true story of everything about The Escapist.

Many thanks to you both, Mr. Kavalier and Mr. Clay, for all your hard work in creating one the greatest characters of all time. And thank you for allowing Mr.Chabon to chronicle the entire smashing story.

Yours Sincerely,

Scoopriches

Author’s Note: This letter was delivered to me, the wrong Scoopriches. It came by Owl Mail, which popped up through a wormhole generated by a bean grown by a giant. It is obviously from a different dimension, possibly Earth-Prime, because on our Earth The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon is listed as fiction. But we all know, this entire tale happened to someone in somewhere at someplace, don’t we?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite all time book., June 8 2013
By 
Cory Beatty (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Love it completely. Chabon is my favorite author and this book is his absolute masterpiece. I've read everything he's written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Colossal Bore, March 25 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
To be honest I couldn't even finish this book.
I'm a comic book collector. My brother is a comic book writer. I know comic books. I know the history of comic books.
I also know this book is boring and is uninteresting after the boys get their comic book career off the ground.
Also, call me "homophobic", but does the author have to put a homosexual writer in every book? (Wonder Boys had one as well) This just didn't ring true - it had the feeling of "I need a homosexual writer" rather than Sammy NEEDING to be a homosexual writer.
After it got boring, it got stupid - the entire World War 2 segment in particular. We went from quasi-realistic to soap opera mush in the span of about 10 pages.
Please skip telling me that it "ended great" - because I don't care. I'm off reading GOOD books now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Irritating, Sept. 15 2002
By A Customer
This book actually deserves two stars. But given that it's received such a high rank here, I thought I needed to a little more to counteract those effects. After all, there's so much better literature out there that you could spend your time on. Some people have criticized this book for being too flowery in its language -- on the contrary, I felt that Chabon writes beautifully, and well. I could stand for even more complex language. Others have taken it to task for coming from a perspective only those with a knowledge of Golden Age comic books could appreciate. I disagree. Even though I was a comic book fan in my youth, my experience with comic books is much more up-to-date. I'm in my 20s. In fact, I found Chabon's constant reference to comic book history a little irritating, because half of his references weren't true, but he wrote as if they were, and those of you who didn't know couldn't ever tell. The most disappointing thing about this book though, was that it was written with precisely all the ham-handed skill of an old-fashioned comic book. (Maybe that was his intention?) None of the characters are very complex, some of them go so far as to be cartoons. Josef is literally some Jewish superhero, almost a copy of Batman. Sammy, the closeted gay man. Rosa, the faithful girlfriend. Mr. Saks, the adoring father in law. Anapol, the avaricious but respectful boss. And Carl Ebling, the bumbling Nazi sympathizer. It was as if Chabon himself was avenging the wrongs done to Jews with such simpleminded work as the Jewish cartoonist, like Joe, once did. If that's true, it's a cute technique, but unworthy of a Pultizer, certainly, and probably easier as a simple comic book. (And besides, isn't it time to let the Germans be, and get over it?) There is absolutely no character development as this novel purports to trace the lives of two men over several decades. There is never any dramatic build-up -- we never see the emotion that must go behind life-changing decision. Even when the characters are faced with a challenge, they skip over it with the nonchalance of a garbage man picking up the trash. Josef's family sends him away, having liquidated the family fortune to do so. He runs into visa problems at the border, but he simply gets into a coffin and is sent away as a dead giant. Chabon deals with conflict as simply as that ... which makes me wonder why this thing is 600 pages long.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible novel, June 13 2014
One of my all-time favourites. Glamourous, magical and with incredibly vivid characters. This is a book that I keep coming back to.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic, April 22 2014
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Pulitzer prize winner,Very good read, quite a page turner obviously. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, Feb. 14 2013
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This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
I read this book in high school after taking it out of my library. I never really had the chance to buy it until now. I really enjoyed it back in high school, and will enjoy re-reading it now (~10 years later).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Escapism, April 9 2005
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
The story of The Escapist and his creators is good escapism. I picked up this novel because it won the Pulitzer Prize, one of the most reliable sources for good literature. I wasn't disappointed. Whether you are a comic book fan or not, this is a powerful story about an important part of history. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, Jan. 17 2009
This review is from: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Paperback)
Just a short note to add to so many other reviews.

I used to collect comics as I kid but I actually enjoyed the characters more in this story than the comic book angle.

I really enjoyed this book though I did skim over some of the longer detailed passages. Funnily enough I would then get into some dialogue and often went back to the detail to read it anyway.

Very enjoyable.
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel by Michael Chabon (Paperback - Aug. 25 2001)
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