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Side-Reads > The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

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message 1: by Rosemary (last edited Dec 10, 2011 11:09AM) (new)

Rosemary Please join us in this Side-Read! Andrea and I are co-leading the discussion. Here is the schedule:

December 4 - Week 1: Part 1, all chapters, pages 1-66
December 11 - Week 2: Part 2, chapters 1-6, pages 67-117
December 18 - Week 3: Part 2, chapters 7-12, pages 118-161
December 25 - Week 4: Part 3, chapters 1-5, pages 162-225
January 1 - Week 5: Part 3, chapters 6-15, pages 226-289
January 8 - Week 6: Part 4, chapters 1-7, pages 290-353
January 15 - Week 7: Part 4, chapters 8-17, pages 354-422
January 22 - Week 8: Part 5, all chapters, pages 423-469
January 29 - Week 9: Part 6, chapters 1-10, pages 470-544
February 5 - Week 10: Part 6, chapters 11-20, pages 545-636

Page numbers are based on this edition: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

message 2: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Please join us and post your thoughts on the first section of the book. Week 1: Part 1, all chapters, pages 1-66.

***Remeber to use spoiler and and page numbers so we do not ruin and suprises for anyone :)

message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments I will unfortunately not be able to join the read. I got the book from the library, but print was too small for me to be able to read it with the current eye problems I'm having.


message 4: by Andrea (new)

Andrea No problem, the print is very small indeed! I'm on page 46 and I find that it's a bit annoying because you have to concentrate hard to keep your place. If you really want to read the book you could see if they have a large print edition?

message 5: by Rosemary (last edited Dec 04, 2011 04:44AM) (new)

Rosemary I was surprised, I thought it would be easier to read. I don't think it is only the print size. You do have to concentrate on the narrative more than with many modern books, at least in the beginning. I found it was easier when I got into the story of Josef's escape from Prague. I think it will reward our efforts for those whose eyes can take it, but I am glad to be reading it slowly.

The other thing that would make it easier on the eyes would be to read it as an ebook where you can control the print size.

I am enjoying it but (view spoiler)

I had never heard of a Golem before and in my ignorance, assumed it was a holy book so it was a big surprise when they found it and it was described!

message 6: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Rosemary wrote: "I was surprised, I thought it would be easier to read. I don't think it is only the print size. You do have to concentrate on the narrative more than with many modern books, at least in the beginni..."

I understand how you feel, Rosemary. The first time I read about Golem was 5 or 6 years ago. I was reading The House of Doctor Dee by Peter Ackroyd. And it was a certain obstacle hindering the book comprehension, and I had to google the word and its cultural references, and I did feel ashamed a little bit, but oh well, that is one of the function of the books - to enlighten:-) Isn't wonderful?

message 7: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Andrea wrote: "No problem, the print is very small indeed! I'm on page 46 and I find that it's a bit annoying because you have to concentrate hard to keep your place. If you really want to read the book you could..."

Andrea, are we going to have a different thread for every new week? I am a beginner in the group, so I do not know how threads for side-reads are managed. Thank you.

message 8: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Zulfiya, the side reads are done under one thread for the entire book. So it is important to post at the top what section you are refering to and use the spoiler function if you are giving something awy about the book. A good example of this is Rosemary's post above. Please do not worry too much about how you post, if you do something wrong I will let you know as a gentle reminder :) hahaha Just jump in and have fun!

message 9: by Meera (new)

Meera I hadn't realized that this book was historical fiction even though I owned the book and has been on my tbr list for a while. I don't like to read too much ahead about a book.

I am liking the book but (view spoiler)

Can we discuss spoilers openly when we're talking about stuff that happened in the scheduled reading of the week?

message 10: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I think in the past we have used the spoiler function because we only utilize one thread. Someone who is comming to post about week one might see something about week two or three. Maybe once we get our group or readers for this book established we can discuss this further.

message 11: by Meera (new)

Meera Good to know. Thanks :-)

message 12: by Joell (new)

Joell I'm new to this- the schedule says we start reading on Dec. 4th- today? Or does that mean we start discussing today?

message 13: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Starting today we are discussing the first section, this continues through this week ahead. Next Sunday we will start discussing the second weeks reading. The day posted is the day that we start discussing that section, but some people get behind and may chime in later in the week or even later into the boook. Does this help?

message 14: by Andrea (last edited Dec 05, 2011 08:24PM) (new)

Andrea My comments on pages 1-66

I'm not really sure how I'm going to feel about this book. As much as I would like to pride myself in being an eclectic reader, I tend to read a lot of contemporary mainstream fiction and classics. This isn't a book I would probably pick up on my own and say I want to read that! This is not to say that I do have a pretty good collections of 600+ books, many of which are not my I've had this book for a long time so I jumped at the chance to read it with you all as a group. When I read something with the group I feel an obligation (mostly in a good way) to complete the book. As some of you may have observed in my struggle to finish the Hobbit and Vanity Fair (smirk).

Here are a few of my thoughts so far.....

(view spoiler)

message 15: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) @ Andrea: I think they might be in their very very early 20s at the beginning of the novel. 20 or 21. Maybe 19 at the low end.

message 16: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Oh ok, it's hard to tell with the way the mother treats Clay like a baby. Thanks Loretta! :)

message 17: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 79 comments Joseph is 19 at the beginning of the book. He is born in 1920 (page 20) and when he meets Sammy it is 1939. I think Sammy is one or two years younger, though I can't remember where (or if) I read that

message 18: by Zulfiya (last edited Dec 06, 2011 09:47PM) (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) I am with you, Andrea. I am not sure about my feelings yet, and it is too early to say anything definite. But I am definitely enjoying the language in the novel - it is sharp and sometimes painfully nonchalant.
(view spoiler)

message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Thanks, Nina! I went back to the page you referenced and it was right there plain as day...hahah

message 20: by Rosemary (last edited Dec 10, 2011 09:46AM) (new)

Rosemary Also at the beginning, when Sam first meets Joe he sees "a young man of about his own age" so I guess they are both in the 18-20 range.

Edit: Sammy was 13 in 1935 (page 98) so he'd be two years younger than Joe. But this is into the next section ...

message 21: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Discussion is now open for the second section of the book.

Week 2: Part 2, chapters 1-6, pages 67-117

message 22: by Rosemary (last edited Dec 11, 2011 02:05PM) (new)

Rosemary I found that I got into this week's section much more easily. The setting seems more familiar, which is odd, because I have been to Prague, but never to New York - so perhaps it's just that the author is more confident on his home ground. Comic books are not something I have ever been interested in but I enjoyed the description of the place where Sammy works and I had to resist the temptation to keep reading beyond page 117.

I liked that both of the young men seem to have a strong faith in themselves. I think that can be very inspiring.

message 23: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I'm almost done with this section and I just want to post that I very much agree with Rosemary. I've enjoyed reading this section and found it to be pretty easy reading. I've never been interested intrue comic books but enjoyed the Batman and the like. However, I am finding this really interesting and have a new appreciation for the skill needed to actually produce a comic. Lastly, I think it is great that they are so confident in their skills.

message 24: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (thysanura) I'm also enjoying this so far. Great characters, with some surprisingly funny moments ((view spoiler)) and good tension ((view spoiler)).

The copy I'm reading is due back at the library on the 28th (no option to renew, since others are waiting for it), so I will likely be reading ahead and finishing early. I have it on my Christmas wishlist, but in case nobody buys it for me, I don't want to have to finish the whole thing in three days. :)

message 25: by Joell (new)

Joell I am enjoying the book very much so far. Clever plot set-up and I like the characters.

message 26: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) A belated commentary about the first week. I really liked how hilarious and sad things are presented hand-in-hand in this part of the novel. The sentences might be a little bit too convoluted occasionally, but as soon as I caught the rhythm of Chabon's prose, I actually enjoyed the syntactical depth of his sentences. And I really liked the pervasive bitter-sweet ambiance of the novel.

message 27: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Suzanne, If you read ahead just jot down comments for the sections and then you can post when we get to that point. This has happened to me before when using a library book for a book group :)

Joell, I'm glad that you are enjoying the book so far. I'm already very fond of the characters!

Zulfiya, I agree with you that the writing kind of makes the reader go "hmmmm". I also have come to enjoy the rhythm!

message 28: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary So we're now onto the third section:

December 18 - Week 3: Part 2, chapters 7-12, pages 118-161

message 29: by Rosemary (last edited Dec 18, 2011 04:11AM) (new)

Rosemary Zulfiya, I love that bitter-sweet feel to the novel too! It gets me feeling so involved with the characters. (view spoiler) I loved the back story that they came up with for the Escapist - so imaginative!

message 30: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I finished the last few pages of this section last night. It took a lot of restraint not to keep reading through the night...hahah I'm going to say it again, I never thought I would be interested in reading about comics.

I love the characters overall, I was a bit lost for a few minutes as they introduced a bunch of new people at once...hahah

I find myself cheering for the boys and hoping that they are able to secure a good deal. I know in an earlier post several of us comment on how impressive the boys confidence seemed. I continue to be amazed by this, however I think it has to do with the time and place. It seems common that boys of their ages are well versed in the business and what is hot in comics and novelties.

message 31: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Andrea wrote: "I was a bit lost for a few minutes as they introduced a bunch of new people at once...hahah "

Me too! LOL

message 32: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) I am still playing catch up, and I am reading the second section so far, but there is a striking feature I would like to comment on - Chabon's resourcefulness with the language and the enormous scope of his vocabulary. The historical excursus into the world of comics is extremely well-researched and neatly presented. Chabon also manages to strike a fine balance between serious and funny, sad and hilarious. I am enjoying the book more and more. I hope there are no blatant spoilers in this post;-)

message 33: by Mary (new)

Mary (attorneymom) I am still playing catch-up as well (I'm on p. 123), but wanted to chime in with a few comments. Like Zulfiya pointed out above, Chabon's vocabulary and overall word usage is definitely wide in scope. I've been going back and forth on whether I find it pretentious . . .

Overall, I'm enjoying the book although I've been having difficulty moving through it. Perhaps it's the time of year? But I get the sense that Chabon's done a masterful job laying the groundwork of a wonderful story.

message 34: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Zulfiya, I love reading your posts! You have a great way with words. I have to agree with you and Mary, the writing is just great! So far I'm not finding it pretentious. The could just be because I'm so enthralled in the story I'm just not "hearing" it in that way.

message 35: by Mary (new)

Mary (attorneymom) Yes, I definitely agree that the writing is not pretentious. It's Chabon's choice of words that gave me pause at first. But after thinking about it (yes, I'm a huge dork!), I am inclined to think that his immense vocabulary is properly used in almost every case. He's not just using big words for the sake of using big words. He's using big words that fit precisely what the context dictates. Hope that makes sense.

message 36: by Joell (new)

Joell I am enjoying Chabon's characters and I am impressed with how authentic they are, and how he really endears them to the reader. I like his writing style very much. Here's one of my favorites from the first section (p 41 in my edition):

"With so many people packed into each flat, and so many lately thrown out of work, it was the rare door that went unanswered in the middle of the day...for the most part, the families seemed not to have moved in together so much as to have collided...In many apartments, there was a wild duplication and reduplication of furnishings: sofas ranked like church pews, enough jumbled dining chairs to stock a large cafe, a jungle growth of chandeliers dangling from ceilings, groves of torcheres, clocks that sat side by side by side on a mantel, disputing the hour"

This is just one section that I read several times because I thought it was so well done.

message 37: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Posting a day early because I won't be online tomorrow for the start of the discussion of the fourth section:

December 25 - Week 4: Part 3, chapters 1-5, pages 162-225

Happy holidays everybody!

message 38: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Mary, what you said makes perfect sense!

message 39: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Well it takes a little turn towards Joe's personal crusade this week. I'm enjoying the language too. It gives an epic feel to the story.

message 40: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Andrea, thank you so much for your kind words.

I think I am enjoying my own late schedule (The statement is meant to be tongue-in-cheek) - I have just finished reading part 3, and it was a moment of true literary epiphany (view spoiler)

message 41: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I just wanted to apologize, I'm a little behind this week. I'm working on a huge project at work and I got engaged on Christmas Eve! I hope everyone is enjoying this section and I'll post my thoughts as soon as I finish :)

message 42: by Mary (new)

Mary (attorneymom) Congratulations, Andrea! How exciting!

message 43: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Thanks, Mary! I'm floating on cloud 9..hahaha

message 44: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Congratulations Andrea! That is wonderful news. Have a great New Year celebration :-)

message 45: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Congratulations Andrea! How exciting!

message 46: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Congratulations! Wonderful days, wonderful dreams, wonderful news!

message 47: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Thanks everyone! I am so happy it's crazy!

message 48: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Happy New Year everybody! Feel free to discuss week 5 ... I hope to get to it later today!

January 1 - Week 5: Part 3, chapters 6-15, pages 226-289

message 49: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary Done now and I loved the Salvador Dali part! So surreal! Not just Dali himself but the house and Rosa's bedroom and the moths. Also I appreciated the way that the plot progresses on a number of levels in this section, all intertwined - the boys' personal lives, the copyright issues, and little brother Thomas...

message 50: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) My comments on part 4 (pp.162-225).

I am still not sure about the dictum Chabon is using in this novel - sometimes I think he finds an ideal, precise, pinpoint way to express the emotions and describe the setting, but sometimes I find it a tad bit high-brow and even gratuitous.

On the other hand, he can masterfully combine sad and comical elements in his novel. I definitely felt for and ached with Sam when he received the news about the (view spoiler)

I agree with Rosemary that this part focuses more on Joe's personal crusade. It might seem a little bit unrealistic that (view spoiler), but hey, we are reading a book about comic artists, and sometimes bigger-than-life characters, events, or actions are not only permissible, but basically define the genre.

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