The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

June 3, 2016


Escapism. It’s a term used for stories that are entertaining, light, and inconsequential. Nothing more than an escape from reality. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay doesn’t just revel in escapism; it makes a two-fisted defence of it.

The novel tells the story of Joseph Kavalier and Sam Clay, two Jewish cousins growing up in the era when Nazism began to cast its shadow across the world. Joe is a talented artist with a passion for escape artists and stage magic. Aided by his family’s life savings, his magic teacher and an inanimate golem, he escapes Europe just as the fascists are closing the trap. Sam lives in New York with his stereotypical Jewish mother (who doesn’t love a stereotypical Jewish mother?) and grandmother, having been abandoned by his circus strongman (really) father.  Despite coming from such burly stock, Sam is short of stature and spindly of leg due to a bout of polio at a young age.  He has a big mouth, he is able to conveniently translate into a knack for bombastic writing. Read the rest of this entry »


5 thoughts on Man of Steel

July 9, 2013

Man of Steel (2013) Poster

I should preface this review with the declaration that I am a massive comic book nerd.  What this means, apart from the fact I can impress the laydeez by listing the entire historical line-up of the Avengers, is that I am welded to certain ideas about how super-heroes are presented, and how they act.  I readily admit that some of my problems with the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, fall into finicky comic book shop guy territory.  I like to tell myself that the other ones are more reasonable.

1. Why so serious?

Damn, this is a dour movie.  It’s written by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, the same team responsible for resurrecting the Batman franchise, and they’ve approached Superman with similar grittiness and gravity.  But even Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (and, I guess, the third-one- that-must-not-be-named) let Bruce Wayne make a few gags, and the Joker had a terrifying hilarity about him.  Man of Steel is all saccharine morality scenes and Christ-analogies, and the few jokes that exist are forced and lame.  This is a Superman that is treated with so much reverence that it saps all the fun out of the character.

2. Henry Cavill is super

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Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

April 25, 2013

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert – what a creep.  Sexual predator, public masturbator, effete pseudo-intellectual; it’s not an easy prospect to spend 300+ pages with a pretentious paedo as a narrator, but Nabokov pulls it off (pun intended) thanks to some beautiful writing and razor-sharp wit.

Lolita is the story of a European literary scholar who develops an all-consuming fixation with nymphets – his term for girls on the cusp of puberty.  In his twenties, Humbert alternates between sordid indulgence and tortured repression.  His determination to escape temptation leads him to take multiple coalescence in mental hospitals, to marry the most coquettish woman that he can find, and even to flee to the arctic.  Conversely, his attempts to seek at fulfilment are so wretched and farcical that I almost – almost – felt sorry for him.

Inevitably, though, he accepts his perversion, and begins to seek out opportunity.  He gains accommodation and even marries a woman with one intention in mind – to gain access to her precocious twelve year old daughter, the titular Lolita.  The consummation of this obsession is the subject of the first book; the second is devoted to his downfall.

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