Amanda Davidson's Reviews > The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
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Jul 11, 07

liked it
Recommended for: tired people on the train after work

i couldn't help it! one day i went down to the fiction floor of the library when i was supposed to be doing something industrious and boring and ended up with this in my hand. we'll see...

(LATER THAT MONTH) sitting in the car on monday night, i had a long discussion with my novel dealer and confidante the Frog about michael chabon's writing. here was my experience with this book. i felt informed, interested and edified about the world of pre-wwii prague that chabon vivified, about the process of making comics, about the excitement of collaboratively making stories. i couldn't put the book down, and read addictively, but was haunted all the while by a nastily compulsive feeling, faintly akin to being glued to a television screen without being able to pull myself away, and so, at 3 a.m., in the interest of freeing my consciousness to move on to other fictions which i anticipate will damage me in a more vital way, i skim read to the end. what stuck: the depiction of the platonic, collaborative marraige of sammy, a writer and gay man, and rosa, a comic book artist.

(side note: according to the Frog, chabon had gay relationships prior to meeting, marrying and producing three children with his wife, the writer ayelet waldman. (well, he was married and divorced one time before a.w. so who knows.) i can't find confirmation of the queer rumor, but i mention it to interrogate my own increased interest in his work upon discovering this biographical vaguary. where does my judgement about a book's sensibility come from? what makes a text queer? i won't linger here right now.

another part of my interest in this point is simply that on a level of identification, i am interested in changelings and those of fluid inclinations in the desire department, but i have no idea what his schtick is on the issue. it feels beside the point especially with regards to this book. i do think, however, about characters as avatars, in some sense, living out all kinds of possible or parallel lives to an author's own.)

Frog and i talked about how we envied and were interested in the great amout of historical research that went into the novels, and then Frog made the astute point that in a way, the detailed facticity masks a deeper sense of hollowness in the work, underscored by the hollywood happy endings.

i did find darker and stickier terrain in his short novella the final solution: a novel of dectection, which i highly recommend.
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Janice re: gay

chabon comes out as having sex with men, or at least one man in particular, in the p.s. comments of the book i just finished, mysteries of pittsburgh. this surprised me as i thought he was being all secretive and mysterious about it. i, until this confirmation, wondered if he kept quiet about his possible queerness out of misguided straight-headedness (i.e. not wanting to be labeled as a queer author) despite the constant presence of important and mostly endearing gay men in every book of his that i have read.

interestingly, and annoyingly, i find myself looking back at his work now with tainted eyes, wanting so badly to claim him as one of us, ferreting out details that bolster up his queerness. which means that such straight-headedness would not be so misguided after all, as i desire to run after him with labels.

i can only hope that, since i came across this biographical detail only yesterday, this desire will fade, and i'll stop holding his words up to a magnifying glass, or fun-house mirror.

Chris Gager he uses the word "penis" a lot but never "vagina". I think he split his own persona in two to create joe and sammy.

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