Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Discovery --

It is always exhilarating to "discover" an author one has not read before.
I've mentioned this concept of "discovery" before, in my bloggations.
The author was doing perfectly fine long before I came along to "discover" him or her.
By discovery though, I guess I mean -- you know how there are certain books that you have seen time and again, and something about the book has intrigued you, but you just never picked it up?
Well, I finally "discovered" Michael Chabon.
Have wanted to read this book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for a long while now.
And recently I snagged this book for next-to-nothing at a used book sale.
In one morning [I priced it all out] I managed to nab almost a half-a-thousand dollars worth of books......... for $57.00.
Gotta love those used book sales!

I am only one-sixth into Chabon's world here, but I think I am involved enough in the story to say this thing is going to be a dandy worthwhile adventure. Tonight at my local Starbucks, certain portions of the novel had me spewing coffee through several of my facial orifices.

It's New York, in 1939.
Two Jewish yoots [<-- as Joe Pecci might say]... Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, are trying to come up with an innovative new comic book character. Something to top this upstart Superman fellow, who has every kid in America hurling their hard-earned dimes at whoever will provide them with the latest installment.
[Apparently, at this early stage in his career, Superman did not yet fly, he just jumped real good. His initial reaction to free-basing kryptonite, perhaps?]
Anyhoo, Joe and Sammy are fledgling artists with a few connections to the publishing world, and they have a deadline. They must come up with a plausible, yet incredible new superhero...
They laughed. Joe stopped laughing.
"I think we have to be serious," he said.
"You're right. The Lion. I don't know. Lions are lazy. How about the Tiger. Tigerman. No, no. Tigers are killers. Shit. Let's see."
[They go through a panoply of potential animal-based super heroes, even Mandrill-Man -- "with his multicolored wonder ass that he used to bedazzle opponents."]
You can hear the synapses firing, as they walk down 25th Street -- you can smell the brain cells burning --
"He turns into ice. He makes the ice everywhere."
"Crushed or cubes?"
"Not good?"
Sammy shook his head. "Ice," he said. "I don't see a lot of stories in ice."
"He turns into electricity?" Joe tried. "He turns into acid?"
"He turns into gravy. He turns into an enormous hat. Look, stop. Stop. Just stop."
[They stop]
It dawns on Sammy [he is the brains of this dynamic duo...] it dawns on him that, when it comes to super hero creation, the "why" is more important than the "what".
[They resume walking...]
"How? is not the question. What? is not the question," Sammy said.
"The question is why."
The question is why."
"Why," Joe repeated.
"Why is he doing it?"
"Doing what?"
"Dressing up like a monkey or an ice cube or a can of fucking corn."

Right about then an impressive display of nostril-forced Grande Americano created an eerie mist around me and my table.
I felt it was time to mop things up and move on. Time to come home here and write about this wonderful book that has already proven to be worth more than it's full price, never mind the two measly dollars I doled out for it.

Hmmmm.... if I were a Super Hero -- what would my special power be?
Unwilling to pay anything more than 1/10th of the bar-coded price!



Shark said...

I like cheap books; I'm sad I missed this soiree. The absolute worst thing about Montreal is the lack of decent English used book stores--I need to stock up the next time I'm in Ontario.

SFP said...

I loved this book. It's perfect for my son but I cannot convince him to read it--and I've tried for years! My daughter discovered it on her own a year or so back and loved it as well. I really need to read Yiddish Policemen, but my daughter ran off with it and now I'm going to have to make do with a library copy instead of my very own first edition.

Stefanie said...

I have not gotten around to reading Cahbon yet. Glad to hear the book is so good. Though I feel a little bad for the folks at Starbucks who had to cope with the spewing coffee ;)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm glad you found Chabon. I think he's amazing. So rich in references and meanings and literary flights.

cipriano said...

I finished it.
Oh, what an "amazing" book.
I highly recommend it to all!