Saturday, May 31, 2003

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The most overhyped novel of 2000 is actually a pretty good yarn. I don't hold with some of the critical lauds of Chabon's prose: some of the "rapturous passages" and "gorgeous sentences" were obstructions, I felt, to the thoroughly engrossing story. Still, it's a minor quibble. Chabon writes cleanly and honestly, gives appropriate weight to the pulpy tales of the Luna Moth and the Escapist, and never disrespects the medium in which his titular characters earn their living. What's more, the impact of the Holocaust on Josef Kavalier's family (and on Joe himself) is deeply felt, despite the physical distance between their story and the main narrative.

I enjoyed this, but I still think it was overhyped. If the very concept of taking comic books seriously wasn't foreign to so many critics, I doubt it would have made the splash it did. It's a good novel, but I'm not sure it's great.


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