Book Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

I love reading well written books. Stories can come to life that I would otherwise not be interested in if the writing is so brilliant and so envy-building. That’s why I tend to gravitate toward Nobel Prize winners in literature, YA that has won multiple respected awards, and Pulitzer Prize winning novels. So, of course, Kavalier and Clay ended up on my bookshelf.

And this particular book came with multiple recommendations from people who I respect in terms of their reading recommendations.

But I didn’t really feel this one. And I’m disappointed in myself for saying this.

The metaphors were brilliant and pretty much the thing that kept me reading. They were so frequent, so vivid, so earth-shattering, that I read just for these.

But Chabon does something I thought I had no issue with: third person omniscient point of view. I enjoy the omniscient narrator of Saramago but Chabon seemed to do it sparingly and almost cheaply or weakly. And maybe THAT’S what people don’t like about omniscient POV.

Also, I’ve never been too interested in drawing, comics, comic books, WWII, or historical fiction. Perhaps that alone set me up to be disappointed with this story. But I refuse to be swayed by the “I don’t like the idea of the story, so the book sucks” line of thinking.

The biggest disappointment for me was that, at no point while reading it, I never once put the book down and kept thinking about it or about some topic that it mentioned. My favorite books are the ones that linger like garlic on your breath or a corpse in a room. You can never really get rid of the smell. The books that even after you put them down can’t exit your brain or your life or your being, THOSE are the ones I seek.

I think Kavalier and Clay was a perfectly executed text and story with no depth of social/political realization for the reader. Sure, we learn about Jewish life, WWII, and history of the comic book machine and it’s beginnings. But the “takeaway” seems to be missing. And THAT is what I think kept me from enjoying it.

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