Thursday, April 21, 2016

Two Amazing Novels by Michael Chabon

First, I read a slim volume titled "The Final Solution"; a classic novel of detection in the style of an old fashion Sherlock Holmes-esque piece. Normally, I find this format a little annoying, but the story around the mystery was enthralling with a heart rending situation of a small Jewish boy and his pet parrot, evacuated from the Nazi-ridden continent to Britain. The boy and the bird are placed in a boarding house in the country, where the murder takes place, the bird is stolen from the boy; eventually the puzzle is solved--with the help of the intelligent parrot and an elderly retired detective (who keeps bees). This author is capable was relating "Holocaust" horror without ever taking the reader near a concentration camp; the last few pages of this book sends chills up the spine and tears down the face.

After reading "The Final Solution", I plunged ahead into a mega-sized volume,
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". This is a rich, spicy and powerful stew of imaginative imagery. (It reminded me of "Refiner's Fire" by Mark Helprin). A complicated tale of escape from the Nazis, resettlement in New York of the late 1930's, invention of a successful comic book character and lots of interesting history, an delectible love triangle, the most original story of WWII military service I ever encountered. One character evolves through the book as an avowed homosexual man 1950's America; that process seemed eloquently and sympathetically portrayed. There are ghostly mystical happenings; again, the reader feels the enormous monster of the Holocaust chewing up human populations in Europe, while Joe Kavalier attempts to rescue his trapped family and fight Hitler with a comic book. And in the last few pages, an unforgettable image is delivered with skill.

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