The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Good enough story, I thought the characters could have been stronger, and I think my expectations were set too high for this book. When you hear there's a 722 page book that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is named one of the best 50 gay books ever written, it seems like a no-brainer. While I did enjoy the book, I don't feel it changed my life.
I guess the flaw with this book was that I felt the good parts were the times people detached from their usual lives, like Joe in the ice hut or Sammy in the lightening storm, or Joe learning from the magic teacher. When these people were living their normal lives, the marriage, the kid, I didn't really get it. That being said I thought it ended well, it wasn't clean. Chabon says he's been asked to write a sequel, which is unnecessary. The version I read contained a coda wrap-up at the end, and two deleted chapters about closets which were both great. There was some other stuff too, overall too much stuff for like 50 pages after I finished the book, sometimes less is more.
Someone said in the comments there was too much gay rape, which pissed me off. First of all, I'm on like page 450 and nothing gay has happened yet, I'm like "do I have the right book???" The gay is less than 1% of the story. Secondly, the rape is a life changing, pivotal scene, captured with the line "The bitter taste of the Agent's semen was in his mouth and he would always remember the feeling of doom in his heart, a sense that he had turned some irrevocable corner and would shortly come face to face with a dark and certain fate." Hardly lurid. Thirdly, "too gay"? Fuck you.
I highlighted a couple of scenes as I read.
"As with many novices at the art of disguise, he could not have felt more conspicuous if he were naked or wearing a sandwich board printed with his name and intentions."
"The newspaper articles that Joe had read about the upcoming senate investigation into comic books always cited 'escapism' among the litany of injurious consequences of their reading, and dwelled on the pernicious effect, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life."
"For the only true sequel is the one that flitters briefly into being in your mind, O my friend by the fireside, in the moments after you read the last paragraph and lay the book down." - although this quote from Chabon in 2011 was under-cut by the 37 pages of material that followed it.
The scene with the lightening storm was probably the most romantic thing I've ever read.
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