The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is a brilliant book. It’s huge – in themes, in scope, and in sheer fun. I’m not going to review it, but I wanted to at least tell people they should read it. The book follows the lives of two cousins. One is a Czech artist called Joe Kavalier (also trained as an escape artist), and Sam Clay, raised in Brooklyn. It’s set mainly in the years leading up to the Second World War, where the cousins become major comic writers as the industry enters the Golden Age. I love the themes of escape that prop up this beast of a novel (Kavalier, who is trained as an escape artist, escapes his homeland because of the build up to WWII, and who then seeks to help his family escape). Chabon, whilst not quite as stylish as Letham at his best, certainly knows his way around a sentence, too.
Then, onto C. L. Moore, the first lady of weird fantasy. I read the collection Black Gods And Scarlet Dreams, the Masterworks edition, and even in the first story, I could see it contained more imaginative power than a lot of this year’s combined fantasy output. My initial excitement wavered a little after that, for there were endless descriptions of psychological reaction, of emotion, of fear, of abstract shapes and entities. And I’m all for a little exposition, but some of this was way beyond heady. I admit I stopped halfway, after the adventures of Jirel of Joiry – a hugely important character in genre taxonomy, because she was the first proper female warrior/lead. I was impressed: Jirel was utterly non-sexualised, not made into some leather-clad male fetish – she was properly hard as nails, the equal of any male warrior.
I’m now half-way through a bound manuscript of Kraken, by one China Miéville. (I should say here how wonderful my publicist and editor are for supplying me with a copy.) About a hundred pages in and by god it’s good fun.
After that, I’m hoping to escape core genre for a bit. Possibly, I’ll read some John Cowper Powys, though I’m not hugely knowledgeable on some of his output. I very much enjoyed Wolf Solent – which was written in the style of a horny Thomas Hardy on speed. JCP’s books look intimidatingly big, so if anyone out there knows of some of the smaller tomes, suggestions would be welcome. I found some available on Faber Finds, their Print on Demand range, but I’m not forking out £15 for a copy.