I have a couple friends who stop by here solely to see what I’ve been reading. We swap email regularly — what’s on your nightstand? What have you heard is good? What is your book club’s selection this month? Can you believe they are releasing this?
When a new coworker and friend recently put “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” in my hands and declared it “his favorite book of all time,” I took note. This friend recently returned from 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan, where he said his two significant pastimes — other than surviving the typical below freezing weather and doubling up on wool socks — were drinking and reading. He was averaging 2000 pages a week. This, after finishing at the top of his class as an English major at Boston College. When someone with that kind of hunger for literature hands you his favorite book and instructs you to immediately make time for it, you do.
And oh, if he wasn’t right.
Michael Chabon has both inspired and ruined me with this book. On one hand, it is so incredibly well written, entertaining, educational without being pedantic. He makes me want to drop everything else I’m doing in my life and study words, writing and language. I want to write like this more than anything else. It’s truly brilliant.
On the other hand, the next book I picked up — which isn’t a bad read — is so boring! It doesn’t have the same verve. I have this intense love of for Garcia Marquez, Courtenay and Kingsolver too. They are just so very good, everything else is a bit dull by comparison.
En sum, Kavalier and Clay are cousins who create a series of comic books in New York City. En largess, it is an epic 600-page story about war, faith, revenge, art, survival, love, loyalty and family.
One of my very favorite passages:
“At the same time, as he watched the reckless exercise of Joe’s long, cavalier frame, the display of strength for its own sake and for the love of display, the stirring of passion was inevitably shadowed, or fed, or entwined by the memory of his father. We have the idea that our hearts, once broken, scar over with an indestructible tissue that prevents their ever breaking again in quite the same place; but as Sammy watched Joe, he felt the heartbreak of that day in 1935 when the Mighty Molecule had gone away for good.”
Five out of five bananas, absoloodle.