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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content): A Novel [Format Kindle]

Michael Chabon
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Part One--The Escape Artist

In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini. "To me, Clark Kent in a phone booth and Houdini in a packing crate, they were one and the same thing," he would learnedly expound at WonderCon or Angouleme or to the editor of Comics Journal. "You weren't the same person when you came out as when you went in. Houdini's first magic act, you know, back when he was just getting started. It was called 'Metamorphosis: It was never just a question of escape. It was also a question of transformation." The truth was that, as a kid, Sammy had only a casual interest, at best, in Harry Houdini and his legendary feats; his great heroes were Nikola Tesla, Louis Pasteur, and Jack London. Yet his account of his role-of the role of his own imagination-in the Escapist's birth, like all of his best fabulations, rang true. His dreams had always been Houdiniesque: they were the dreams of a pupa struggling in its blind cocoon, mad for a taste of light and air.

Houdini was a hero to little men, city boys, and Jews; Samuel Louis Klayman was all three. He was seventeen when the adventures began: bigmouthed, perhaps not quite as quick on his feet as he liked to imagine, and tending to be, like many optimists, a little excitable. he was not, in any conventional way, handsome. His face was an inverted triangle, brow large, chin pointed, with pouting lips and a blunt, quarrelsome nose. He slouched, and wore clothes badly: he always looked as though he had just been jumped for his lunch money. He went forward each morning with the hairless cheek of innocence itself, but by noon a clean shave was no more than a memory, a hoboish penumbra on the jaw not quite sufficient to make him look tough. He thought of himself as ugly, but this was because he had never seen his face in repose. He had delivered the Eagle for most of 1931 in order to afford a set of dumbbells, which he had hefted every morning for the next eight years until his arms, chest, and shoulders were ropy and strong; polio had left him with the legs of a delicate boy. He stood, in his socks, five feet five inches tall. Like all of his friends, he considered it a compliment when somebody called him a wiseass. He possessed an incorrect but fervent understanding of the workings of television, atom power, and antigravity, and harbored the ambition-one of a thousand-of ending his days on the warm sunny beaches of the Great Polar Ocean of Venus. An omnivorous reader with a self-improving streak, cozy with Stevenson, London, and Wells, dutiful about Wolfe, Dreiser, and Dos Passos, idolatrous of S. J. Perelman, his self-improvement regime masked the usual guilty appetite. In his case the covert passion-one of them, at any rate-was for those two-bit argosies of blood and wonder, the pulps. He had tracked down and read every biweekly issue of The Shadow going back to 1933, and he was well on his way to amassing complete runs of The Avenger and Doc Savage.

The long run of Kavalier & Clay-and the true history of the Escapists birth-began in 1939, toward the end of October, on the night that Sammy's mother burst into his bedroom, applied the ring and iron knuckles of her left hand to the side of his cranium, and told him to move over and make room in the bed for his cousin from Prague. Sammy sat up, heart pounding in the hinges of his jaw. In the livid light of the fluorescent tube over the kitchen sink, he made out a slender young man of about his own age, slumped like a question mark against the doorframe, a disheveled pile of newspapers pinned under one arm, the other thrown as if in shame across his face. This, Mrs. Klayman said, giving Sammy a helpful shove toward the wall, was Josef Kavalier, her brother Emil's son, who had arrived in Brooklyn tonight on a Greyhound bus, all the way from San Francisco.

"What's the matter with him?" Sammy said. He slid over until his shoulders touched cold plaster. He was careful to take both of the pillows with him. "Is he sick?"

"What do you think?" said his mother, slapping now at the vacated expanse of bedsheet, as if to scatter any offending particles of himself that Sammy might have left behind. She had just come home from her last night on a two-week graveyard rotation at Bellevue, where she worked as a psychiatric nurse. The stale breath of the hospital was on her, but the open throat of her uniform gave off a faint whiff of the lavender water in which she bathed her tiny frame. The natural fragrance of her body was a spicy, angry smell like fresh pencil shavings. "He can barely stand on his own two feet"

Sammy peered over his mother, trying to get a better look at poor Josef Kavalier in his baggy wool suit. He had known, dimly, that he had Czech cousins. But his mother had not said a word about any of them coming to visit, let alone to share Sammy's bed. He wasn't sure just how San Francisco fitted in to the story.

"There you are," his mother said, standing up straight again, apparently satisfied at having driven Sammy onto the easternmost rive inches of the mattress. She turned to Josef Kavalier. "Come here. I want to tell you something." She grabbed hold of his ears as if taking a jug by the handles, and crushed each of his cheeks in turn with her lips. "You made it. All right? You're here."

"All right," said her nephew. He did not sound unconvinced.

She handed him a washcloth and went out. As soon as she left, Sammy reclaimed a few precious inches of mattress while his cousin stood there, rubbing at his mauled cheeks. After a moment, Mrs. Klayman switched off the light in the kitchen, and they were left in darkness. Sammy heard his cousin take a deep breath and slowly let it out The stack of newsprint rattled and then hit the floor with a heavy thud of defeat. His jacket buttons clicked against the back of a chair; his trousers rustled as he stepped out of them; he let fall one shoe, then the other. His wristwatch chimed against the water glass on the nightstand. Then he and a gust of chilly air got in under the covers, bearing with them an odor of cigarette, armpit, damp wool, and something sweet and somehow nostalgic that Sammy presently identified as the smell, on his cousin's breath, of prunes from the leftover ingot of his mother's "special" meatloaf-prunes were only a small part of what made it so very special-which he had seen her wrap like a parcel in a sheet of wax paper and set on a plate in the Frigidaire. So she had known that her nephew would be arriving tonight, had even been expecting him for supper, and had said nothing about it to Sammy.

Josef Kavalier settled back against the mattress, cleared his throat once, tucked his arms under his head, and then, as if he had been unplugged, stopped moving. He neither tossed nor fidgeted nor even so much as flexed a toe. The Big Ben on the nightstand ticked loudly. Josef's breathing thickened and slowed. Sammy was just wondering if anyone could possibly fall asleep with such abandon when his cousin spoke.

"As soon as I can fetch some money, I will find a lodging, and leave the bed," he said. His accent was vaguely German, furrowed with an odd Scots pleat.

"That would be nice," Sammy said. "You speak good English."

"Thank you"

"Where'd you learn it?"

"I prefer not to say."

"It's a secret?"

"It is a personal matter."

"Can you tell me what you were doing in California?" said Sammy. "Or is that confidential information too?"

"I was crossing over from Japan!'

"Japan!" Sammy was sick with envy. He had never gone farther on his soda-straw legs than Buffalo, never undertaken any crossing more treacherous than the flatulent poison-green ribbon that separated Brooklyn from Manhattan Island. In that narrow bed, in that bedroom hardly wider than the bed itself, at the back of an apartment in a solidly lower-middle-class building on Ocean Avenue, with his grandmother's snoring shaking the walls like a passing trolley, Sammy dreamed the usual Brooklyn dreams of flight and transformation and escape. He dreamed with fierce contrivance, transmuting himself into a major American novelist, or a famous smart person, like Clifton Fadiman, or perhaps into a heroic doctor; or developing, through practice and sheer force of will, the mental powers that would give him a preternatural control over the hearts and minds of men. In his desk drawer lay-and had lain for some time-the first eleven pages of a massive autobiographical novel to be entitled either (in the Perelmanian mode)Through Abe Glass, Darkly or (in the Dreiserian) American Disillusionment (a subject of which he was still by and large ignorant). He had devoted an embarrassing number of hours of mute concentration-brow furrowed, breath held-to the development of his brain's latent powers of telepathy and mind control. And he had thrilled to that Iliad of medical heroics, The Microbe Hunters, ten times at least. But like most natives of Brooklyn, Sammy considered himself a realist, and in general his escape plans centered around the attainment of fabulous sums of money.

From the age of six, he had sold seeds, candy bars, houseplants, cleaning fluids, metal polish, magazine subscriptions, unbreakable combs, and shoelaces door-to-door. In a Zharkov's laboratory on the kitchen table, he had invented almost functional button-reattachers, tandem bottle openers, and heatless clothes irons. In more recent years, Sammy's commercial attention had been arrested by the field of professional illustration. The great commercial illustrators and cartoonists Rockwell, Leyendecker, Raymond, Caniff-were at their zenith, and there was a general impression abroad that, at the drawing board, a man could not only make a good living but alter the very texture and tone of the national mood. In Sammy's closet were stacked dozens of pads of coarse newsprint, filled with horses, Indians, football heroes, sentient apes, Fokkers, nymphs, moon rockets, buckaroos, Saracens, tropic jungles, grizzlies, studies of the folds in women's clothing, the dents in men's hats, the lights in human irises, clouds in the western sky. His grasp of perspective was tenuous, his knowledge of human anatomy dubious, his line often sketchy-but he was an enterprising thief. He clipped favorite pages and panels out of newspapers and comic books and pasted them into a fat notebook: a thousand different exemplary poses and styles. He had made extensive use of his bible of clippings in concocting a counterfeit Terry and the Pirates strip called South China Sea, drawn in faithful imitation of the great Caniff. He had knocked off Raymond in something he called Pimpernel of the Planets, and Chester Gould in a lockjawed G-man strip called Knuckle Duster Doyle. He had tried swiping from Hogarth and Lee Falk, from George Herriman, Harold Gray, and Elzie Segar. He kept his sample strips in a fat cardboard portfolio under his bed, waiting for an opportunity, for his main chance, to present itself.

"Japan!" he said again, reeling at the exotic Caniffian perfume that hung over the name. "What were you doing there?"

"Mostly I was suffering from the intestinal complaint," Josef Kavalier said. "and I suffer still. Particular in the night."

Sammy pondered this information for a moment, then moved a little nearer to the wall.

"Tell me, Samuel," Josef Kavalier said. "How many examples must I have in my portfolio?"

"Not Samuel. Sammy. No, call me Sam."


"What portfolio is that?"

"My portfolio of drawings. To show your employer. Sadly, I am obligated to leave behind all of my work in Prague, but I can very quickly do much more that will be frightfully good."

"To show my boss?" Sammy said, sensing in his own confusion the persistent trace of his mother's handiwork. "What are you talking about?"

"Your mother suggested that you might to help me get a job in the company where you work. I am an artist, like you."

"An artist." Again Sammy envied his cousin. This was statement he himself would never have been able to utter without lowering his fraudulent gaze to his show tops. "My mother told you I was an artist?"

"A commercial artist, yes. For the Empire Novelties Incorporated Company."

For an instant Sammy cupped the tiny flame this secondhand compliment lit within him. Then he blew it out.

"She was talking through her hat," he said.


"She was full of it."

"Full of...?"

"I'm an inventory clerk. Sometimes they let me do pasteup for an ad. Or when they add a new item to the line, I get to do the illustration. For that, they pay me two dollars per."

"Ah." Josef Kavalier let out another long breath. He still had not moved a muscle. Sammy couldn't decide if this apparent utter motionlessness was the product of unbearable tension or a marvelous calm. "She wrote a letter to my father," Josef tried. "I remember she said you create designs of superb new inventions and devices."

"Guess what?"

"She talked into her hat."

Sammy sighed, as if to suggest that this was unfortunately the case; a regretful sigh, long-suffering---and false. No doubt, his mother writing to her brother in Prague, had believed that she was making an accurate report; it was Sammy who had been talking through his hat for the last year, embroidering, not only for her benefit but to anyone who would listen, the menial nature of his position at Empire Novelties. Sammy was briefly embarassed, not so much at being caught out and having to confess his lowly status to his cousin, as at this evidence of a flaw in the omniveillant maternal loupe. Then he wondered if his mother, far from being hoodwinked by his boasting, had not in fact been counting on his having grossly exaggerated the degree of his influence over Sheldon Anapol, the owner of Empire Novelties. If he were to keep up the pretense to which he had devoted so much wind and invention, then he was all but obliged to come home from work tomorrow night clutching a job for Josef Kavalier in his grubby little stock clerk's fingers.

"I'll try," he said, and it was then that he felt the first spark, the tickling finger of possibility along his spine. For another long while, neither of them spoke. This time, Sammy could feel that Josef was still awake, could almost hear the capillary tricklee of doubt seeping in, weighing the kid down. Sammy felt sorry for himi. "Can I ask you a question?" he said.

"Ask me what?"

"What was with all the newspapers?"

"They are your New York newspapers. I bought them at the Grand Central Station."

"How many?"

For the first time, he noticed, Josef Kavalier twitched. "Eleven."

Sammy quickly calculated on his ringers: there were eight metropolitan dailies. Ten if you counted the Eagle and the Home News. "I'm missing one."


"Times, Herald Tribune," he touched two fingertips, "World-Telegram, Journal-American, Sun." He switched hands. "News, Post. Uh, Wall Street Journal. And the Brooklyn Eagle. And the Home News in the Bronx." He dropped his hands to the mattress. "What's eleven?"

"The Woman's Daily Wearing."

"Women's Wear Daily?"

"I didn't know it was like that. For the garments."  He laughed at himself, a series of brief, throat-clearing rasps. "I was looking for something about Prague."

"Did you find anything? They must have had something in the Times."

"Something. A little. Nothing about the Jews."

"The Jews," said Sammy, beginning to understand. It wasn't the latest diplomatic maneuverings in London and Berlin, or the most recent bit of brutal posturing by Adolf Hitler, that Josef was hoping to get news of. He was looking for an item detailing the condition of the Kavalier family. "You know Jewish? Yiddish. You know it?"


"That's too bad. We got four Jewish newspapers in New York. They'd probably have something."

"What about German newspapers?"

"I don't know, but I'd imagine so. We certainly have a lot of Germans. They've been marching and having rallies all over town."

"I see."

"You're worried about your family?"

There was no reply.

"They couldn't get out?"

"No. Not yet" Sammy felt Josef give his head a sharp shake, as if to end the discussion. "I find I have smoked all my cigarettes," he went on, in a neutral, phrase-book tone. "Perhaps you could-"

"You know, I smoked my last one before bed," said Sammy. "Hey, how'd you know I smoke? Do I smell?"

"Sammy," his mother called, "sleep."

Sammy sniffed himself. "Huh. I wonder if Ethel can smell it. She doesn't like it. I want to smoke, I've got to go out the window, there, onto the fire escape."

"No smoking in bed," Josef said. "The more reason then for me to leave it."

"You don't have to tell me," Sammy said. "I'm dying to have a place of my own."

They lay there for a few minutes, longing for cigarettes and for all the things that this longing, in its perfect frustration, seemed to condense and embody.

"Your ash holder," Josef said finally. "Ashtray!'

"On the fire escape. It's a plant!"

"It might be filled with the ... spacek? ... kippe? ... the stubbles?"

"The butts, you mean?"

"The butts."

"Yeah, I guess. Don't tell me you'd smoke-"

Without warning, in a kind of kinetic discharge of activity that seemed to be both the counterpart and the product of the state of perfect indolence that had immediately preceded it, Josef rolled over and out of the bed. Sammy's eyes had by now adjusted to the darkness of his room, which was always, at any rate, incomplete. A selvage of gray-blue radiation from the kitchen tube fringed the bedroom door and mingled with a pale shaft of nocturnal Brooklyn, a compound derived from the haloes of streetlights, the headlamps of trolleys and cars, the fires of the borough's three active steel mills, and the shed luster of the island kingdom to the west, that came slanting in through a parting in the curtains. In this faint glow that was, to Sammy, the sickly steady light of insomnia itself, he could see his cousin going methodically through the pockets of the clothes he had earlier hung so carefully from the back of the chair.

"The lamp?" Josef whispered.

Sammy shook his head. "The mother," he said.

Josef came back to the bed and sat down. "Then we must to work in the darkness."

He held between the first fingers of his left hand a pleated leaf of cigarette paper. Sammy understood. He sat up on one arm, and with the other tugged the curtains apart, slowly so as not to produce the telltale creak. Then, gritting his teeth, he raised the sash of the window beside his bed, letting in a chilly hum of traffic and a murmuring blast of cold March midnight. Sammy's "ashtray" was an oblong terra-cotta pot, vaguely Mexican, filled with a sterile compound of potting soil and soot and the semipetrified skeleton, appropriately enough, of a cineraria that had gone unsold during Sammy's houseplant days and thus predated his smoking habit, still a fairly recent acquisition, by about three years. A dozen stubbed-out ends of Old Golds squirmed around the base of the withered plant, and Sammy distastefully plucked a handful of them-they were slightly damp-as if gathering night crawlers, then handed them in to his cousin, who traded him for a box of matches that evocatively encouraged him to EAT AT JOE'S CRAB ON FISHERMAN'S WHARF, in which only one match remained.

Quickly, but not without a certain showiness, Josef split open seven butts, one-handed, and tipped the resultant mass of pulpy threads into the wrinkled scrap of Zig Zag. After half a minute's work, he had manufactured them a smoke.

"Come," he said. He walked on his knees across the bed to the window, where Sammy joined him, and they wriggled through the sash and thrust their heads and upper bodies out of the building. He handed the cigarette to Sammy and, in the precious flare of the match, as Sammy nervously sheltered it from the wind, he saw that Josef had prestidigitated a perfect cylinder, as thick and straight and nearly as smooth as if rolled by machine. Sammy took a long drag of True Virginia Flavor and then passed the magic cigarette back to its crafter, and they smoked it in silence, until only a hot quarter inch remained. Then they climbed back inside, lowered the sash and the blinds, and lay back, bedmates, reeking of smoke.

"You know," Sammy said, "we're, uh, we've all been really worried ... about Hitler... and the way he's treating the Jews and ... and all that. When they, when you were ... invaded.... My mom was ... we all..." He shook his own head, not sure what he was trying to say. "Here." He sat up a little, and tugged one of the pillows out from under the back of his head.

Josef Kavalier lifted his own head from the mattress and stuffed the pillow beneath it. "Thank you," he said, then lay still once more.

Presently, his breathing grew steady and slowed to a congested rattle, leaving Sammy to ponder alone, as he did every night, the usual caterpillar schemes. But in his imaginings, Sammy found that, for the first time in years, he was able to avail himself of the help of a confederate.

Revue de presse

PraisegMichael Chabon

About Wonder Boys

"Mr. Chabon is that rare thing, an intelligent lyrical writer." —The New York Times Book Review

"The young star of American letters . . . a writer not only of rare skill and wit but of self-evident and immensely appealing generosity."
—Jonathan Yardley,
The Washington Post Book World

"Wonder Boys caught me up and carried me along like some kind of flying carpet. . . . Michael Chabon keeps us wide awake and reading." —Alan Cheuse,
All Things Considered, National Public Radio

"[A] beguiling and wickedly smart novel."
—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review

About Werewolves in Their Youth

"A loving craftsman and the author of superb, seemingly alchemically rendered sentences, Chabon has been producing pitch-perfect, at times even dazzling, fiction."
—Michael Carroll, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 5153 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 658 pages
  • Editeur : Random House; Édition : Reprint (12 juin 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0070O5F4U
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°134.879 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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1 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Tojours contente 1 juin 2012
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The book arrived promptly and in perfect condition. It is a very good read and has been recommended in the British press
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  1.019 commentaires
296 internautes sur 309 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Far exceeded my expectations 4 décembre 2000
Par The Gooch - Publié sur Amazon.com
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" works on so many different levels. It has the thrills, action and pacing of a comic book, yet also has the beautiful language, fully developed, memorable characters, and moving, non-manipulative drama of the finest literary novel. It is rare to see excitement, sadness, history, and humor mix so seamlessly together. I hesitate to write too much about the plot, because this is the type of novel where if you learn too much about the fate of the characters ahead of time, it will ruin much of the fun in letting yourself get absorbed in the suspense of the novel. There are so many things done right in this book that it seems like a disservice to not try to mention as much as I can about its qualities. Chabon is able to include in this novel the history and development of the comic book, Jewish mysticism, mid-20th century American culture, the Holocaust, US involvement in WWII, Houdiniesque escape and magic, all without ever letting this researched information interfere with the flow of the story. It is also rare to read a novel where the setting is so vividly created for the reader. A large part of my enjoyment of the novel, aside from the story itself, was using Chabon's prose as a guide to transport me to New York during the middle portion of this century. This may be the one of the first enduring literary works of our new century.
120 internautes sur 131 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not life-changing, but worth the read. 8 juillet 2002
Par Ilana Teitelbaum - Publié sur Amazon.com
When I read this book, I didn't even know that it had won the Pulitzer Prize--there's no trace of that information anywhere on the library hardback that I read. So I was blissfully unaware that I was reading what was supposed to be a Literary Masterpiece, and I would have been surprised if I had known.
There's no doubt that Michael Chabon is a master of his craft; his writing is a mix of the matter-of-fact and flights of fantasy, and often reality is granted an additional glow of the magical. His characters are real from the start: Sammy, Joe, Ethel and Kornblum are not talking heads, but characters who are distinct and touching in their fallibility.
Probably the best aspect of this book is where it deals with art, and art and escapism are themes that are tightly woven throughout this story until they become inseparable. At first art is the means to manipulate one's personal reality, as Joe convinces himself that he is fighting the war against the Nazis by having his hero fight them in the comics; and later this idea is carried further, so that art is not only used to manipulate reality, but to escape it utterly; and this is viewed as the ultimate goal of the artist.
Another high point of the novel is its moments in which the blend of art and realism are so seamless that at first it is difficult to tell where reality ends and the art begins. These moments are consistent with the magical atmosphere that marks Kavalier and Clay's "Golden Age," as well as with the theme of art as a means of escape.
The theme of art and its relationship with escapism is the one theme that threads consistently throughout the novel. Otherwise, one might say that "Kavalier and Clay," for all its strong points, is lacking in that after the tight, virtuoso beginning, the story loses focus and eventually all sense of unity. The plot becomes somewhat convoluted in the manner of John Irving, as if Chabon is throwing oddities into the mix just to keep things interesting. Hence we get Antarctica, the oddball marriage, and the threatened jump from the Empire State Building, which feel as if they are taking place in a world apart from the rich world to which we were originally introduced as readers, which was in itself so compelling. The result is that one begins to wonder where the original story went, if this is the same book, and to wish that it had ended before the pure magic of the atmosphere became replaced with coincidence and contrived circumstance.
Another drawback to this book was Joe Kavalier himself, who was simply too much of a good thing, especially in contrast to Sammy Clay. Just when it seemed that there was nothing else that Joe could possibly be good at, something else came out to prove that assumption wrong. In comparison, Sammy comes across as a failure: his talent for writing is never vindicated in the way that Joe's talent for drawing is vindicated to the hilt from beginning to end; yet the original idea for the Escapist came from Sammy, so clearly he is not a wholly insignificant talent.
If Joe was meant to seem perfect and Sammy a failure, then this is not a drawback but a fact; but my sense of it was that somewhere, Sammy's story simply fell by the wayside to make way for Joe's. As a reader, I found Sammy a more interesting character precisely because nothing came easily to him and because he was so conflicted in every aspect of his life. Many times I found it strange that he was so unappreciated while Joe had center stage, yet this dynamic was never commented upon in the book, as if the author didn't notice it himself.
Without giving anything away, the ending was a climax of banality, and not a particularly realistic one at that. It is as if the author became tired and just wanted to get it over with--a common occurrence, but a bit hard to take after the epic scale of this novel had seemed to promise so much. While "Kavalier and Clay" is worth the read, it leaves lacunae to tease the reader, like a detailed painting that trails away into emptiness.
150 internautes sur 167 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Epic & Brilliant Novel!! 3 novembre 2000
Par Joseph J. Hanssen - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is a stunning novel about the adventures of two boys who write comic books during what was known as the Golden Age of comic books in the 1930's. This book about Joe, Sammy, and Rosa and their lives spans continents, eras, and many years of love and much hardship. The details of their lives is written in such beautiful language it makes you feel you are living in this time period. I have never been so involved in what I was reading as I was in this book, all 636 pages of it. It's a long story but one you will think about long after you have finished it. The characters you will never forget. So I guess I am saying Michael Chabon is a brilliant writer, who can certainly capture the attention of his readers. He has a florid way of writing and I really enjoyed that.
I was never a great reader of comic books, but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. I could go on and on about the story, but you just have to read the book description for that. It's all there. I would highly recommend this wonderful book if you have the time to read it. You'll find yourself staying up late till you reach the last chapter. What a great movie this would make. I really enjoyed Michael Chabon's other three novels, but I think this is his best yet.
114 internautes sur 129 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Real Wonder Boys 17 octobre 2001
Par Mike Stone - Publié sur Amazon.com
"A faster read than a Grisham book. More powerful than an Oprah pick. Able to win Pulitzer Prizes in a single bound edition. Look! Up on the bookshelf! It's pulp fiction! It's serious literature! It's `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay'! Yes it's `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', written by a strange visitor from Pittsburgh who came to the literary world with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', a book that can change the course of mighty literary trends, bend public discourse in its bare hands, and which, disguised as Michael Chabon's latest novel, a mild-mannered bestseller for a great metropolitan readership, fights a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! and the American Way!"
Pretty cheesy, that. But good cheese, no? Actually, the above is just a thinly veiled attempt to usher you into the world of super-hero comic books that Michael Chabon has created for this book. It is a world of convenient coincidences, of nick-of-time rescues, of unbelievable happenstance, and hyper-romanticism. It's a world whose characters are drawn in two tones (black or white), where good and evil combat in epic struggles, and little boys pay ten cents an issue to read about it. It's an entirely made up world, embracing its own fictionality, but one that the reader can easily get lost in. Chabon has written a book that takes the conventions of the comic book and exploits them. If you encounter a situation here that tests the boundaries of reality, try reading it as if spread over six cheerily drawn panels. It'll make much more sense that way.
The reason for this technique, if I may be so bold as to articulate it, is quite simple: Escapism. Joe Kavalier at one point lists the reasons why he loves his comic books: "for their inferior color separation, their poorly trimmed paper stock, their ads for air rifles and dance courses and acne creams..." But most importantly, for this young man newly escaped from occupied Prague, for the way they allowed young boys to escape from reality and dream their dreams. It's a pretty moving message. Joe and his cousin Sammy Clay (nee Clayman) create a comic book superhero to exploit this theme, named appropriately enough "The Escapist". It's popularity ends up rivaling Superman and Batman. I'm not going to tell you what Sammy is escaping from, for that would ruin one of the book's best and most tastefully portrayed surprises.
However, all is not painted in comic book artificiality. In fact, much of the book's sub-text is quite poignant and real. I mean, the book's title, which looks very comic-esque, is actually quite ironic. The boys' adventures aren't really that amazing together (it's run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff, except for a huge joint success). Joe has some topsy-turvy times himself, and Sammy's are more internal and domestic than anything. Even their names are ironic. Joe is certainly not cavalier about the cause he finds himself obsessed with. Sammy's clay (his "fundamental nature or spirit") remains hidden for the majority of the book, only drawn out against his will. Chabon only uses the comic book template as an easy entry point into this world. After that, he creates some complex human situations. And the book is set in and around a very real New York City, during its golden era. Not only are the city's alleyways and seedy apartments and subways represented, but so are some of its most famous landmarks. It's no coincidence that the Empire State Building stands tall and proud on the cover of the book's first paperback edition. It plays a major role in many of the boys' "adventures". As does the recent World's Fair, in a minor but crucial way.
The knock here is that Chabon's prose is a little too purple, a little too flowery, with a vocabulary that may stymie the majority of his readers. Frankly, I've read prose infinitely more difficult. Chabon, by comparison, is actually quite an easy, straightforward read. And for a 600+ page book with little in the way of narrative thrust, it's quite a page-turner. He has a sly little sense of humour, littering the text with some very silly, sarcastic moments (e.g., a brainstorming session almost ends with Kavalier & Clay's super hero being called `The Mandrill', with his "multicolored wonder ass that he used to bedazzle opponents"). But for the most part the book has a very somber tone. Before you begin, though, do yourself a favour and read up on the legend of the Golem (and not just in the Tolkien sense of the world). It'll help you to better understand many of the book's themes.
Chabon has done a wonderful job mixing a lot of research on comic book history (and I mean a lot), with a fake comic book history (perfectly believable in this context), with a story about two young men trying to live the American Dream. Don't be afraid by the book's heft; it's an exciting read, filled with suspense and cliffhanger endings, just like a real comic would be.
40 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Chabon Draws A Brilliant & Moving Book 14 novembre 2000
Par Brett Benner - Publié sur Amazon.com
With Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon will finally get all the attention he so richly deserves. The book is a feast for the imagination, and spectacularly written.A young Jewish man, Joe Kavalier, uses his fascination and dedication to the art of magic as a means to escape from German occupied Prague.He arrives in New York City, and with his cousin Sam Clay invents The Escapist; a comic book super hero who fights villians heavily based on Hitler. This is America in the forties, when Superman had just become a hit, and young boys everywhere were eagerly waiting for the next issue to see what would happen to their caped crusader. What follows is their rise in the comic book industry, as well as battles with their own personal chains that lead them to their ultimate destinies.
Chabon's canvas merges fact with fiction, and the characters interact with Salvador Dali, Uta Hagen, Stan Lee, Orsen Wells, and the great Harry Houdini among others. That only makes his characters so much more real as you read it, it's easy to forget it's fiction. If you're looking for the type of book that creates a detailed world with artistry in the writing, and a moving collection of characters, this is the one.
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