Monday, October 16, 2006

The Amazing Adventures of Kavaliere and Clay, Michael Chabon, 2000

A very ambitious and quite finely written novel trying to emulate "Ragtime" or the "great American novel" as we know it... Not surprisingly, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2001. Unfortunately, learned and researched as it is, it leaves you cold and unengaged by its story and characters. The novel traces the life a two Jewish men - one an immigrant from the Czechoslovakian ghetto, the other a Brooklynite, during World War II -- both artists and both involved in the rise of the graphic novel or the comics. They become the fictional creators of a popular comic book character "the Escapist" inspired by Houdini and imbued by the energy of 1940s freedom-fighters, opposing antisemitism in a world, which had become hopeless for millions. Chabon diligently depicts the ten cent world of the comics industry, parallel to the most dramatic events in world history but his characters lack life and his novel remains mostly decorative.


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