I've been banging on at a handful of people to read 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' for years now. The book always seemed like a perfect fit to some of my friends and I was always eager to bang on about it to them. But after re-evaluating it recently and reading some more of Michael Chabon's work, I now think that it's a book for more than just some of my friends- it's a book for everyone. The themes and story lines just speak to a far larger audience than the comic shell that holds the whole thing together. So let me whet your whistle and convince you to pick up a copy.
I can't remember how I found the book, particularly. Though once I had, and discovered it was a Pulitzer prize winning novel and also related to the comic industry, I snapped it up, appealing as it did to both the pretentious and geeky aspects of of my personality. The book itself is set in 1939 and is about two cousins, one escaping from Prague coming to live with the other, based in New York. Kavalier and Clay, respectively. The story follows how they influence each others lives and come to form a partnership which ends up creating a widely successful comic character known as 'The Escapist'. It's a fictionalisation, though is loosely based on other key comic creators of the time, such as Stan Lee and Will Eisner, and how they drove the industry and the iconic characters they created. However, this is merely the glue which holds the whole thing together and the book itself tackles all kinds of other subjects that I won't even mention for fear of spoiling it for you.
I hadn't even heard of Chabon when I first read the book, though he quickly became one of my favourite writers. His writing alone makes the book worth reading. He's the sort of author that will write a sentence that just makes you put the book down, grin, and curse the world that you didn't write it. He makes you want to become a writer yourself. His beautiful form of descriptive writing can sometimes threaten to be twee or over-cooked, but never is. It's perfectly judged balancing act and he never fails to put you completely in the time or place he desires. He also sprinkles his books with delicious little morsels of Jewish slang or vocabulary which never fail to raise a smile. I've always found the way Jewish people use the English language (and even the sound of Yiddish) to be weirdly fascinating, especially to an outsider like me, and I love getting a peek into that world, even if it is a fictional one.
You know, I'm not going to write about this any-more for fear of saying too much. Just go and read it. I guarantee you won't regret it. In fact, you'll almost certainly want to thank me. In that case, cash is always welcome. That or a hug.