I love summer and everything that goes with it, like barbecues and baseball, but this summer I’m especially pumped because of all the reading I’m going to do.
No summer school means I have plenty of time to sit back and enjoy some books, and I’ve already finished two in the last week and a half.
The first one is kind of cheating as far as summer reading is concerned, as I’d been reading it throughout the last month of school, but it’s worth noting because it may have eclipsed Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as my favorite novel of all time. Its name is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, written by Michael Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on the novel.
As a big fan of comic books since the time I began reading, this book, which chronicles the lives of two fictional Jewish Golden Age comics creators before, during, and after World War II, really struck a chord in me. Chabon makes Joe Kavalier, a part-time escape artist who uses his skills to get out of Prague as the Nazis were interning his family, and his New York-born cousin Sammy Clay incredibly well-rounded characters, and you can feel their relationship grow stronger as the book, and their bourgeoning comics empire, led by their star creation, The Escapist, continues.
Chabon weaves tales of The Escapist into the narrative and it’s bursting with the classic flavor of vintage comics. When that storytelling is mixed with the main tale of Joe’s attempts to bring his family to New York while falling in love with a woman named Rosa, and Sammy coming to terms with who he really is, it is an amazing book I cannot recommend enough.
After finishing Chabon’s novel, I hopped right into a completely different kind of story: I began the search for Stephen King’s Dark Tower, starting with part one, The Gunslinger. I figured that, since Lost is ending, I would read the sprawling Western-sci-fi-fantasy epic that (partially) inspired the show I’ve loved so much.
The novel kicks off quite nicely, with a gunslinger (sort of an alternate world Arthurian knight, but with guns!), whose name is later revealed to be Roland, chasing an unnamed man in black across a desert. The gunslinger enters a town recently visited by the man in black, and weird things happened, including a resurrection. There’s gunfights and gore and it’s pretty action-packed, which is always a good thing.
After leaving the town, Roland meets a young boy named Jake, who he finds out is from our version of New York, and this is when the seeds are planted for the rest of the series to live up to its mind-bending promise. The last section of the book, in which Roland briefly catches up to the man in black, is fascinating and well-written, spawning a fantastic dialogue between the two.
I plan on reading the rest of the series over the summer, interspersing plenty of other books in between. Currently I’m reading both Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien. Both are good at this early stage for completely different reasons, the former for its vast poetic language courtesy of a nineteenth century Russian wordsmith, and the latter for its trippy-yet-funny quasi-science fiction nature.
I have plenty of other books to read, but I’m wondering if anyone else has any suggestions to add to my stack for this summer and beyond. Feel free to comment.