The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this treasure of a book. It’s been out for a dozen or more years, and I’ve heard about it, seen it, had it in my house, noticed the Pulitzer Prize logo on the cover, but for some reason–I was hanging on to the anticipation aspect, maybe–I never got around to actually opening it up. But when I finally did, prompted to some extent by the quality of other Michael Chabon stories I have read, and to some extent by the recommendation of my brother, a big reader and fine critic, I wasn’t disappointed.

Michael Chabon is a genius of a writer, opening new worlds to us and at the same time making us think he’s writing about the guys down the block, or us. It may not be 1940, we may not be Jews, we may not be escape artists or comic book creators or keepers of the Golum, but that doesn’t matter. We’ve all experienced friendships and fears and triumphs and losses. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all made people proud and made people disappointed. We’ve loved and hated. We’ve feared. We’ve persevered. Michael Chabon uses the differences we have, the past, the exotic, to accentuate the things we have in common. He uses his unique language and writing skills to find exactly the right word and phrase and sentence and paragraph and point of view. He makes characters we care about come alive. They aren’t heroes, but they’re heroic, and memorable.

If you’re a writer, there’s a big lesson here among all the lesser ones: don’t be afraid to write what you don’t know. If you have the chops, you can learn about the comic book business and what was going on 60 or 70 years ago or whatever you have the initiative to master. This is a big book, but don’t shy away from it. You’ll be happy you didn’t.

(Review on Goodreads)

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