Oh dear, it’s been along time since I updated. Sorry about that. I just moved to NYC, so I’m trying to get myself settled, but let me update you on what I’ve been reading since last time.
I went on a Michael Chabon kick and read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. Both amazing, and longer than my usual fare. Kavalier and Klay was 600-pgs and YPUwas 400-pgs.
The interweaving of different characters was really impressive. Chabon begins in Brooklyn with Sam Klayman and turns around to detail Josef Kavalier’s escape from Prague during World War II. The friendship of these two Jewish boys turns to creating comic books as a way primarily to make money, but also to express the sense of helplessness Kavalier feels on the other side of the ocean from his family. It’s interesting to think about the medium of comic books, how they’re often trivialized and set aside as shallow images and dialogue, but Chabon builds a world out of these comic books, and juxtaposing scenes from the comic books with the diegesis of the book is ingenious, giving the reader another way to read the comics.
What really struck me was how Chabon built the world of Sam Klayman, the slow realization of his homosexuality and the tentative enjoyment he finds with Tracy Bacon, before withdrawing to relative safety with Rosa as his beard.
The characters were realistic, flawed, and unique. Kavalier is driven by the thought of his family trapped in Prague and makes questionable choices based off his need to do something. Clay has all these stories inside him, fuelled in part by his own limited body, his thin legs from polio. It all comes together masterfully.