The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

I didn’t judge this book by its cover, but I noticed it because of its cover. Even though I have zero interest in comic books or escape artists, I decided to give this highly-rated Pulitzer winner a try.

1) “‘Never worry about what you are escaping from. Reserve your anxieties for what you are escaping to.'” – Kornblum

Grass is greener. In reality, you recalibrate your expectations and start looking for new grass again.

2) “Feet, notoriously difficult to draw in realistic depth, all but disappeared from the panels, and noses were reduced to the simplest variations on the twenty-second letter of the alphabet.”

Aren’t the 21st and the 23rd both more accurate than the 22nd?

3) “‘Yeah, you’re in America now. We chew a lot of gum here.'” – Sammy

Looking back, it’s ridiculous how gum chewing was such a big “cool” thing in high school. Is it a teenager thing? Does anyone chew gum anymore?

4) “So that their products might qualify as magazines, and therefore be mailed second class, comic book publishers made sure to toss in the minimum two pages of pure text required by postal law – usually in the form of a featherweight short story, written in sawdust prose.”

I didn’t fact check, but TIL.

5) “‘You can’t negotiate for me, Mr. Clay. I’m management.'” – Deasey

I really enjoyed this book’s commentary on making it big in America.

6) “Month after month, the Escapist ground the armies of evil into paste, and yet here they were in the spring of 1941 and Adolf Hitler’s empire was more extensive than Bonaparte’s.”

The WWII backdrop kept the story moving. I’m sure I had learned in school at some point, but I had forgotten that America had held out on the war for as long as possible. 80 years later, we’re still late and reactive to global catastrophes.

7) “One of the sturdiest precepts of the study of human delusion is that every golden age is either past or in the offing.”

It’s nice to hear people say this is the golden age of TV, if only for the fact that people recognize the past isn’t always better.

8) “The sun disappeared, and you could not leave the tunnels, and everything and everyone you loved was ten thousand miles away.”

BRB, reconsidering Antarctica trip.

9) “The entire airplane had a pied appearance, reddish-brown blotches of seal stitched against a background of silver-gray, as if it had been splashed with blood.”

I don’t understand why they wrapped the airplane in seal and dog skin.

10) “‘You can’t walk me to school. Mom, you can’t possibly. I would die. I would absolutely die.'” – Tommy

I remember when it was shameful to get dropped off at school. O high school.

This book was an epic. It had a secret escapist society, a moth lady comic character, a gay romance, an underground shelter in Antarctica, a congressional hearing, and much more. All of this took place with a backdrop of WWII and the pursuit of the American Dream. Even the writing style was epic, with sentences that regularly each took up half of the Kindle screen and many words that I’d never seen before. My main gripe was that the author often used brand names to represent objects. I guess now I know a few brands of cigarettes.

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