Monday, October 22, 2007

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

This weekend, I visited Prague where Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the creator of the golem, is buried in the Jewish Cemetery.

My first introduction to the golem came when I read Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

My initial reaction is that this is a “guy” book. The two main characters, cousins Samuel Klayman and Joseph Kavalier, get involved in magic and comic books—two pastimes I associate with males. Despite not feeling a strong connection to the characters or their interests, the book is a valuable read for its historical context.

Joe escapes from Prague during the Nazi occupation. Unfortunately, the rest of his family was not so lucky. It wasn’t until reading this book that I was motivated to do further research on Jewish refugees in the United States. I was shocked and ashamed to discover the United States had refused entry to a ship carrying Jewish refugees, sending them all to their deaths back in Europe.

I was also fascinated by Joe’s involvement in magic, and Chabon gives away several magicians’ “secrets.” For example, Joe hollows out his cheek so he can hide keys there.

Although I found much of the subtext interesting, the book is overly long (656 pages) and, as I’ve mentioned, so male-oriented I often felt alienated as a female reader.

If you are interested in literature about WWII and the Third Reich, rather than read Kavalier & Clay, check my recommendations in tomorrow’s review.

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