October, 2000

A novel set during the formative years of the comics industry, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY is must reading for any fan of the medium. Author Michael Chabon crafts an immersive multi-faceted saga that covers a decade and a half in the lives of fictitious pioneer comic book creators Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay. Chabon did his research, and it shows–real people and events of the era drift in and out of the narrative, something of an Easter egg for those in the know. But the merits of the novel go beyond simply the use of the cultural setting. The language is florid and colorful, yet engaging, and the narrative is skillfully woven, balancing hope and despair in equal measure. Chabon knows how to dance the reader up to the edge of an important turning point in the lives of his characters, and then suddenly pull the rug out in a shocking yet logical fashion.

The book is divided up into five large chapters, each one something of a departure from the preceding one. It’s a testament to the author’s skill that, even though the novel reaches a logical conclusion, I wanted to know what happens next. For, like life, Chabon refuses to tie everything up into a completely neat package, and some of the events of the final segment of the book cry out to the reader to wonder what comes next. It’s the same serial style used by the comics themselves, though to a different effect here.

Everyone should go out and pick up a copy of this book. It’s going to be my default holiday gift this year for certain.

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