Sunday, November 30, 2014

Project Finally: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

now finished: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Um. Well. Comic books. Golems. Books I started more than a decade ago and got a hundred pages into and never finished and took this long to get around to's all here, folks!

This was for sure going to be a two-star rating until the last 60 pages or so. You redeemed yourself a little, Chabon, but barely. Escapistry, indeed! By the way, the three stars should not be construed in any way to mean that I suddenly liked the characters at the end of the book, because the big three are still pretty dismal attempts at How to Treat Each Other Well, but the ending was just better than the rest of the book, is all I'm saying. Weirdly, it was set on Long Island while most of the rest of the book is in The City (that would be New York) (except that part in Antarctica! yeah, don't ask...) so you'd think that wouldn't be a selling point for me, but anyway...

Have I mentioned this book is about comic books? And that there's a golem? Basically my two least favorite things ever. I was really, really starting to love me some Michael Chabon back in the day (circa 2001) and Wonder Boys made my list of Greatest Novels Ever and I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and A Model World.. and I was just devouring it all and I worked on a production of the play Poor Super Man and was totally digging the profound secret identity/comic book superhero as growth metaphor and was so ready to just love! and adore! The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Then I started reading it.

Slow going. Got to around page 90 or 100. Never finished. Haven't read any other Chabon since then, either.

But, you know, what with this being a Pulitzer-winner and all, I knew I was going to read it eventually, and I meant to and meant to and meant to and now I have FINALLY done it and my entire experience while reading it, before those last 60 pages, was that it drags and drags and that everyone in it does some stupid stuff and that the woman's feelings don't much seem to matter, and a few other spoilery things that aren't even worth going into because who cares?!

I actually think the whole overarching metaphor works; I don't think Chabon was reaching or trying to be too grandiose or whatever in conceiving this -- although that Antarctica part could maybe try to make a bit more sense -- but I just think the straight-up page-to-page writing was borderline snoozy a lot of the time. Especially during the flashbacky tales of escape.

I'm sure there are people who don't love comic books who were nonetheless able to love this book. I am not one of them.

But, wheee! I finished another Pulitzer book! Always a fun day.

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