The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 19, 2002

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

This book continued our month of discussing literary works. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay recently won the Pulitzer prize. The story is about two young men (Sam and Joe) who are pioneers in the comic book industry during World War II. The writer (Sam) is a native New Yorker, and the artist (Joe) is a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe.

Since A. T. had to miss this meeting due to illness, Lori ran the meeting. Seven persons attended, of whom 5 had read at least some portion of the book. One person e-mailed comments. The opinions ranged from O.K. to Great, although the book had almost no fantastic elements and was merely associated with our field by the subject matter. We were fascinated by the concept of the Golem as a superhero (the only real fantastic element).

Unlike many science fiction books, it was not plot-driven, but the characters and the writing kept most of us reading. The book also seemed to follow a subtle thematic arc rather than a more traditional arc. The WWII scene in Antarctica was very surreal and seemed to be out of whack with the rest of the book. Some members of the group wanted to see the graphic novel that Joe was working on.

We also liked the packaging of both the hardback and the trade paperback, and the book made some readers curious about the actual congressional hearings on the comic industry. Most of the industry creators mentioned (with the exception of Sam and Joe) really were prominent writers and artists of the time. We also appreciated that Sam and Joe were not thinly disguised versions of real persons but were truly fictional characters. Some of us were slightly confused by the “Gift of the Magi”-type ending.

Afterward the group had dinner at Threadgill’s, even though Lori begged them to go somewhere she hates instead of her favorite since she had to go home and feed A.T.

— Lori Wolf