The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is #17 on my list of favorite books. In so doing, I realize that the list is flawed in that, despite the ranking, the book is much better than its #17 place. Those books ahead of it are, in some cases, lesser. The problem is perspective. I read K&C within the last 5 years, whereas Toni Morrison's Beloved hit me when I was 20 and blew me away. The Chabon book, however, is a re-readable one, whereas others on the list are not.
This is a great American novel. I mentioned Chabon last month from meeting him at The New Yorker Festival. The book spans a century, from pre-WWII Eastern Europe through New York City during the War, to Post-War Long Island. The story of comics is integral to the plot, and fascinating. And there is a wonderful love story built in as well.
Few books depress me when they end. This one did. I was depressed because I wanted more, I wanted the narrative to continue. The characters were wonderful and the writing is sublime.
The #17 rank rankles me. I wish I could rate it higher. But there is no justice, I guess. Another favorite of mine in the last several years, Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex doesn't even make my list. Rolling Stone, in 2003, listed The 500 Albums of All Time. Number 17 on that list is Nirvana's Nevermind. I think that is an apt comparison. I love that album more than Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (#2), but recognize that Pet Sounds is a remarkable accomplishment in rock history. I know we're comparing apples to kumquats here, but The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is Chabon's Nevermind. Brilliant, haunting, wonderful.