Originally I’d given up on reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. The comments to my “Failure” post gave me mixed advice, and yet I agree with all of it. Two people advised me not to waste valuable reading time on a book I just wasn’t interested in, and one person told me he couldn’t put it down after getting into the second half (which I hadn’t made it to yet) so I should give it another try.
Like I said, I agree with everybody. Some books I know I don’t care for and either won’t pick up in the first place or will quit on without feeling too awful (especially if it’s a library book I didn’t spend money on). A while back, I started a supposed mystery a friend had recommended that turned out to be boring and not at all a mystery. I’m not going to publicly diss any book, so I won’t name names, but I had no trouble tossing that one aside, that’s for sure.
Kavalier and Clay, though, was different, which is where I circle back to the comment that encouraged me to try again. I still thought the book sounded interesting, and even though when I’d decided to quit reading it I’d flipped to the last chapter to see where everyone ended up, I still wanted to know things like how Sammy becomes gay and what Joe does with his life–and who the hell Rosa was. Since I was interested, and since my roommate was out of town and all the season finales on TV were over and I’d intended to spend my evenings reading anyway, I dedicated myself to the challenge of finishing the book. The challenge was heightened by the fact that the book was due Saturday (today) and I couldn’t renew it because there were holds on it.
I do well with a deadline, actually, so I started getting through those pages. I read and read and read, and I finally finished it Thursday night. All my questions about the characters were answered. I’d seen how everything turned out.
The big question, though: Was it worth it in the end?
Yes and no.
I enjoyed the book. It was interesting, but not an inspiring or mind blowing experience for sure. Really, the only reason I couldn’t put it down through the end was because I had to get through as many pages as possible in each sitting. I’m glad I finished it, but if I had to start all over I wouldn’t have started it in the first place.
I’d compare this book to one of John Irving’s, and some people would see this as a great compliment. I’ve read several of his books, so obviously I liked his writing, and the books do stick in my mind, but I’d never be able to stand to write like him. His books are so comprehensive and sweeping, covering not simply a critical point in some character’s life but the whole epic of his or her existence. His books are sometimes way too much, and Kavalier and Clay ended up being way too much too.
Other people love those kinds of books, but I guess I’m more for getting to the point and showing me the action. (Why I’ve found I really love YA, I guess).
But I finished the book. Yay! Now I can read the other three books I have waiting for me.