What a weird and wonderful journey.
I have at long last finished the magnificent novel by Michael Chabon, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. When I bought my copy I cannot say, but it was years and years ago. They no longer sell this particular edition, and the bookmark which nested inside it came from a bookstore which went out of business longer ago than I can rightly remember. I kept waiting for the perfect time to read this respected novel, the right time. But that time never seem to come. I started a few times but rarely got past the first hundred pages or so. After each failed attempt, I'd have to let the book settle in my memory a bit, so that it was fresh enough for another bout.
Then last year I got hold of it and started again and made great progress, following the story of two young men finding out about the dangers of the world they lived in, both in the dark recesses of Europe under Hitler's shadow and a New York City bristling with ambitious men and women eager to define themselves and scrape up lives of dignity. I was nearly two-thirds of the way through it, reading it on my breaks at work and even a bit at home when I found enough quiet.
Then I lost track of it again.
For nearly a full year it was lost in the cataclysm which passes for my library in a secondary bedroom. Out of sight and out of mind, and as always the distractions of other entertainments got in the way.
But when I stumbled across it a few days ago and knew I must finish this tale, which so many hold in such high regard. I picked it up and it was as if that year had not existed, I was immediately back in the world of Joe Kavalier, a complicated but wildly talented magician and artist who created heroes who represented the worst and best of us, and Sammy Clay, Joe's American cousin who lacked the talent but had the drive and focus to make the most of Joe's. Together they became partners and friends in a business which could destroy both with ease and aplomb. Together they created "The Escapist", a hero who was a resounding metaphor throughout this saga.
We see Joe try to save his family from Hitler's evil, and we follow Sammy as he discovers that his own personal desires are too dangerous for even the freedom-espousing folk of America to accept. Both men, profound outsiders, bonded to one another, struggle to find lives worth the living. They both fail sometimes, and they both succeed sometimes too.
I didn't expect to find myself teary-eyed when I finished the last lines of the story, but there I was. I not only sympathized with Joe and Sammy, but empathized with them, and knew that anyone with heart would likewise do so. This is a great novel, I can finally say that on my own word and not rely on critics.
If you haven't read this novel you must. It's a golden key you cannot pass up.
|The only issue of Dark Horse's The Escapist that I bought and own.|