Posts Tagged ‘the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’

Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Literature, Part I

In addition to our Aught-themed Sunday Book Review, which we began last week, NPI is presenting a more general look at fiction of the decade in which we look quickly and some of the most significant works of literature published during this decade. This is Part I of a two-part series.

2666 — Roberto Bolaño

 The epic of the Aughts (so long as we’re not counting The Wire), 2666 affords Bolaño the posthumous chance to opine on death in all its forms: from the corporeal to the metaphysical. His characters are deep even when they are fleeting, and his style (in Natasha Wimmer’s translation) ranges from florid to hard-boiled. In contemplating his own legacy, Bolaño pretty much ensured it. 

–Tim

 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay — Michael Chabon

I’ve already expanded on my high opinion of Michael Chabon’s novel about the Golden Age of Comic Books; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay presents a compelling portrait of what it’s like to create fantasies in an era of global turmoil—a particularly resonant story of the Aughts, even if Chabon’s novel came out in 2000. While he deals with themes like evil and fantasy, however, Chabon is adept at depicting a rich setting of New York City in the 1930s.

– John S

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Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures

In keeping with NPI’s December theme of Aught Lang Syne, this month’s Sunday Book Reviews will cover some of the most important works of literature to come out this decade. Today we’re starting with Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

What is the appeal of superheroes? As this decade’s onslaught of superhero movies* has proved, simply investing someone or something with incredible abilities does not suffice to make a compelling story. And yet so many people are preternaturally drawn to these stories, like a moth to a flame.

*For the record this decade has seen three Spiderman movies, four X-Men, two Batmans, two Fantastic Fours, one Superman, two Hulks, one Iron Man….Am I forgetting some? Oh yeah, two Hellboys, Daredevil, Catwoman, Elektra, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and, if you want to count them, two Blade sequels.

In Michael Chabon’s modern classic, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, he provides something of an explanation. Early in the novel, when the titular “heroes” are struggling to come up with a superhero to launch their new comic book business, they realize the futility of trying to come up with an irresistible gimmick for the hero. As Sammy Clay, the brains of the operation, puts it:

“No matter what we come up with, and how we dress him, some other character with the same shtick, with same style of boots and the same little doodad on his chest, is already out there, or is coming out tomorrow, or is going to be knocked off from our guy inside a week and a half…How? is not the question. What? is not the question….The question is why…What is the why?”

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