It has been 20 years since Michael Chabon’s legendary novel was published on September 19th, 2000. In that short time, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay has won a Pulitzer Prize, and many many other awards.
The book follows two cousins, Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, as they reunite when Joe comes to America to escape Nazi Europe. The pair combine their skills, Joe the artist, and Sam the writer, to navigate the newfound world of comic books. It follows their careers, and intertwined love lives: Sam struggles with his queerness in a time when it wasn’t accepted and Joe falls in love with a woman he can’t have. Chabon lets readers into a world that is torn by war and patches it with the love and creative connection that the two cousins share.
It is incredible that in only 20 years the book has become a modern American classic. But, what is more incredible is the number of book covers that it has gone through.
There is a quote in the book that reads, “Forget about what you are escaping from. Reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to.” Here are the TAAOKAC book covers. There are so many of them and they are all amazing. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but hopefully, after seeing these, TAAOKAC will be something you want to reserve your anxiety for and escape into.
1. The first edition published by Random House in 2000
image via amazon
2. The 2001 paperback edition with Houdini on the cover
image via goodreads
3. the post-Pulitzer edition in august 2001
image via goodreads
4. The Italian Edition in 2001
image via goodreads
5. the Swedish edition in 2002
image via goodreads
6. the german edition in 2004
image via goodreads
7. the french edition in 2004
image via goodreads
8. the Chinese edition in 2012
image via goodreads
9. the rebranding of all Chabon books to look this way in 2012
The United States of America is a big place, each state so different from the next that each one can feel like a different country. In lieu of doing a some sort of crazy months-long roadtrip through all fifty states, you can get a sense of each one through reading novels set there. Reading transports you, allowing you to travel without leaving the comfort of your home. Here are five American authors whose books are an ode to the cities in which they are set.
The Best People by Marc Grossberg —Houston
Marc Grossberg’s The Best People follows a cop-turned-attorney whose sense of right and wrong is challenged as he enters the world of elite divorces in Huston. As best-selling author Andrea White puts it in her glowing review, “As his dreams get bigger, his crimes grow darker.” According to his website, Grossberg’s ‘tale of trials and errors’ “portrays a Houston as it is, a glitzy meritocracy populated with larger-than-life characters. It is the landscape where the country-club and café-society sets clash amidst clever legal manoeuvring, big law firm politics, a Ponzi scheme and judicial corruption.”
Definitely an ode to Grossberg’s hometown of Houston, Texas, Mimi Swartz, Executive Editor of Texas Monthly notes that “Marc Grossberg has the experience and the smarts to make Houston come alive on the page. The Best People will even take lifelong Houstonians to places they’ve never been. As they say in Houston, if it ain’t true, it oughta be.”
Paddy Moran, a former cop from Brooklyn, is a newly licensed attorney in Houston with dreams and aspirations to make it big. He survives early rough bumps and ethical challenges. Then, through networking, he lands two high-profile clients. With his brash moxie and brilliant legal strategy, he gets outstanding outcomes that put him on the success trajectory to the upper echelons of the city’s divorce bar. But, faced with difficult choices in high-stakes litigation, will he balance his thirst for recognition and respect with his sense of right and wrong?
The Best People also follows Pilar Galt, a sensuous, intelligent single mother from the Houston barrios, for whom a temp assignment evolves into a relationship with the richest man in town. Her path intersects with Paddy’s and eventually converges with his during a pivotal time in her life when she must overcome self-destructive tendencies to survive.
A legal drama and social satire set after Enron and before the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, The Best People portrays a Houston as it is: a glitzy meritocracy populated with larger-than-life characters. It is the landscape where the country-club and café-society sets clash amidst clever legal maneuvering, big law firm politics, a Ponzi scheme, and judicial corruption.
Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin —San Francisco
Recently adapted in a critically acclaimed Netflix series, Maupin’s famous series exemplifies the beauty and wonder of San Francisco. The books follow the lives of the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane and are a moving exploration of humanity and a city in flux. According to the blurb, the residents of Barbary Lane include “the bewildered but aspiring Mary Ann Singleton; the libidinous Brian Hawkins; Mona Ramsey, still in a sixties trance; Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, forever in bright-eyed pursuit of Mr. Right; and their marijuana-growing landlady, the indefatigable Mrs. Madrigal… Maupin leads them through heartbreak and triumph, through nail-biting terrors and gleeful coincidences. The result is an addictive comedy of manners that continues to beguile new generations of readers.”
Armistead Maupin’s uproarious and moving Tales of the City novels have earned a unique niche in American literature and are considered indelible documents of cultural change from the seventies through the first two decades of the new millennium.
Originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (1978), More Tales of the City (1980), and Further Tales of the City (1982) afforded a mainstream audience of millions its first exposure to straight and gay characters experiencing on equal terms the follies of urban life.
Among the cast of this groundbreaking saga are the lovelorn residents of 28 Barbary Lane: the bewildered but aspiring Mary Ann Singleton, the libidinous Brian Hawkins; Mona Ramsey, still in a sixties trance, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, forever in bright-eyed pursuit of Mr. Right; and their marijuana-growing landlady, the indefatigable Mrs. Madrigal.
Hurdling barriers both social and sexual, Maupin leads them through heartbreak and triumph, through nail-biting terrors and gleeful coincidences. The result is a glittering and addictive comedy of manners that continues to beguile new generations of readers.
White Oleander by Janet Finch—Los Angeles
Finch’s book explores a complex and moving relationship between a daughter and her convict mother, against the backdrop of Los Angeles, California. When her mother goes to prison for murder, Astrid is bounced between foster homes, and, as journalist Nile Cappello notes “Astrid’s own internal struggles are reflected in the diverse landscapes that accompany her road to self-discovery and understanding.” An Oprah’s Book Club pick, White Oleander was adapted into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright and Renee Zellwegger, and is a key Californian coming-of-age text that captures its setting and characters so vividly, you’ll never forget them.
Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery, but their idyll is shattered when Astrid’s mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison.
White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrid’s journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances. Each home is its own universe, with a new set of laws and lessons to be learned. With determination and humour, Astrid confronts the challenges of loneliness and poverty, and strives to learn who a motherless child in an indifferent world can be. Tough, irrepressible, funny, and warm, Astrid is one of the most indelible characters in recent fiction. White Oleander is an unforgettable story of mothers and daughters, burgeoning sexuality, the redemptive powers of art, and the unstoppable force of the emergent self.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon —Pittsburgh
A book I come back to time and time again for its lyrical prose, perfect sentences and strange and unruly characters, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chabon’s debut novel, published when he was just twenty-five follows a young man’s difficult relationships and coming-of-age in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are simply not enough hours in the day to go through the praise this novel received upon its publication, but Carolyn Forche summed up the acclaim quite nicely when she called Mysteries “Simply, the best first novel I’ve read in years…It will find its place beside On the Road and Catcher in the Rye.”
The enthralling debut from bestselling novelist Michael Chabon is a penetrating narrative of complex friendships, father-son conflicts, and the awakening of a young man’s sexual identity.
Chabon masterfully renders the funny, tender, and captivating first-person narrative of Art Bechstein, whose confusion and heartache echo the tones of literary forebears like The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield and The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh incontrovertibly established Chabon as a powerful force in contemporary fiction, even before his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay set the literary world spinning. An unforgettable story of coming of age in America, it is also an essential milestone in the movement of American fiction, from a novelist who has become one of the most important and enduring voices of this generation.
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham —New York
In this beautiful little gem of a novel, Cunningham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, takes us on a tour of New York through the eyes of his protagonist Peter Harris, a successful art dealer, who finds himself questioning everything when he becomes infatuated with his wife’s younger brother. A startlingly immersive book, Cunningham’s witty and observant prose draws you in until you feel as though you, too, are rethinking your life on the streets of New York, New York. In her review for The Guardian, Hermione Lee notes that “Peter Harris finds, before the nightfall we are all moving towards, that the opposition he has been making between divine, visionary art and ordinary humanness – as embodied in the wife and the marriage he has been half taking for granted – is a mistake. The “jewel of self” we all carry about with us while we cross the street or go on errands or do our work, “that self-ember…the simple fact of aliveness, all snarled up with dream and memory”, might be a form of art too.”The whole course of one’s life really can change in an instant.
Peter is forty-four, prosperous, childless, the owner of a big New York apartment, a player in the NY contemporary art dealing scene. He has been married to Rebecca for close on twenty years. Their marriage is sound, in the way marriages are. Peter might even describe himself to be happy. But when Mizzy, Rebecca’s much younger brother, comes to stay, his world is turned upside down. Returning to their New York flat after work one day, Peter sees the outline of Rebecca in the shower. But when he opens the shower door, it is Mizzy he comes face to face with. From that moment on, Mizzy who occupies all of Peter’s thoughts. His fascination with him is erotic but not exactly sexual. Without ever really falling out of love with his wife, he tumbles into love with her brother, and is encouraged that way by the young man.
With traces of the tensions that ripple through Death in Venice, this new novel from Michael Cunningham brilliantly examines the quest for unattainable, and temporal, beauty.
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros— chicago
Sandra Cisneros’s beautiful coming-of-age novel follows Esperanza, a Latina girl living in Chicago. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Cisneros writes from the heart of a child bluntly and truthfully. Everyone needs this book,” while The New York Times Book Review notes “She is not only a gifted writer but an absolutely essential one.” The House on Mango Street is studied in schools throughout America, and lauded for its tender depiction of immigrant life and coming-of-age in Chicago, Illinois.
Told in a series of vibrant vignettes, The House on Mango Street is the story of Esperanza Cordera, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. For Esperanza, Mango Street is a desolate landscape of concrete and run-down tenements where she discovers the hard realities of life – the fetters of class and gender, the spectre of racial enmity and the mysteries of sexuality. Capturing her thoughts and emotions in poems and stories, Esperanza is able to rise above hopelessness and create for herself “a house all of my own quiet as snow, a space for myself to go” in the midst of her oppressive surroundings.
LA Times reports that beloved novelist Chuck Kinder, who was also the inspiration for the central character in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, has passed away.
Kinder was regarded as a literary force with a larger-than-life personality, and published many titles, including Snakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life, and last year’s Hot Jewels.
Image via Amazon
Honeymooners was Kinder’s most popular book, and tells the story of two bad-boy writers, who were inspired by real-life friend Raymond Carver, and himself.
He was also famous for mentoring Michael Chabon when the Pulitzer Prize-winning author was still an undergraduate student in the 1980s. The late author was believed to be the inspiration for the character Grady Tripp, the disheveled, pot-addicted writer and professor in Chabon’s Wonder Boys (The character was portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 2000 adaptation).
Image via Amazon
Kinder’s former student, novelist, and screenwriter, April Smith, praised her teacher, “[Kinder’s] work was and remains outstanding and fresh. He was a born storyteller with an instinct for myth, which was not exactly in favor compared to pared-down modernists like John Updike.”
Image via LA Times
Another former student, Carl Kurlander, posted as well, reminiscing about Kinder’s warmth and creation of a safe space for fellow writers during his 40 years as a teacher:
“When I first came back to Pittsburgh for what I thought would be a one year Hollywood sabbatical, I met a great teacher/writer/human being named Chuck Kinder who embraced me so warmly, it was one of the reasons I felt like staying.”
After a number of health issues including two strokes, a heart attack, and triple-bypass surgery, Kinder retired as the director of University of Pittsburgh’s creative writing program in 2014, and settled in Key Largo, Florida, with his wife, Cecily.
Kinder was seventy-fix-years old. He will be remembered by admirers and all whose talents he helped foster.
There are so many wonderful books in the world and with more published every week it can be hard to know where to start, especially on Mondays, when everything is ten times harder than it usually is. So let us do the work for you. Here are the three books you need to be reading this week. You’re welcome. This week it’s The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, Pops by Michael Chabon and Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin.
A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.
When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.
Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother isa “true page turner.” —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors
This book has been receiving serious amounts of hype, and for good reason. Challenging the notion that mothers must be perfect, totally infallible beacons of morality, Molloy plays on society’s views of mothers and the obligations and expectations of motherhood, while combining this complex critique with a thrilling plot that keeps you turning pages.
Book of the Month had this to say: “To have children, we are told, is to achieve our ultimate glory. It’s also our chance to be totally judged. Through the eyes of these moms, we experience the struggles—the loneliness, fears, and worries—of parenting. But this isn’t just a social commentary. It’s a hair-raising, terrifying, urgent thriller told with abundant complexity (and creepiness). I dare say once you start reading this, you will never be able to put it down.”
“Magical prose stylist” Michael Chabon (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) delivers a collection of essays—heartfelt, humorous, insightful, wise—on the meaning of fatherhood.
For the September 2016 issue of GQ, Michael Chabon wrote a piece about accompanying his son Abraham Chabon, then thirteen, to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Possessed with a precocious sense of style, Abe was in his element chatting with designers he idolized and turning a critical eye to the freshest runway looks of the season; Chabon Sr., whose interest in clothing stops at “thrift-shopping for vintage western shirts or Hermès neckties,” sat idly by, staving off yawns and fighting the impulse that the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. The piece quickly became a viral sensation.
With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.
I am a huge Michael Chabon fan. Huge. He can do very little wrong in my opinion. I was first turned on to him when I heard him narrate half of his exquisite short story “Werewolves in Their Youth,” on an episode of This American Life. I subsequently made my family sit in silence and listen to it and talked relentlessly about it to anyone unfortunate enough to cross my pass in the month that followed. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. Anyway, everything he writes is brilliant and worth reading, regardless of whether it’s a short story, a novel, an essay or whatever. That’s why I’m as excited as I always am to read his new publication Pops.
It centers around his essay for GQ about bringing his son to Paris Fashion Week, which I read long before I knew who Michael Chabon was, and which is profoundly moving. I couldn’t believe it, when was in my Chabon honeymoon phase, obsessively Googling and reading up on everything he’s ever done, and discovered that he had written the essay that I remembered so fondly. He’s just great and you should read him.
Miranda July meets Mary Karr in this brilliant debut novel from Jen Beagin, Whiting Award winner and “one of the freshest voices I’ve read in years—funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate” (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins), about a cleaning lady on a quest for self-acceptance after her relationship with a loveable junkie goes awry.
Jen Beagin’s quirky, moving, “frank and unflinching” (Josh Ferris) debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona—almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift, and cleaning houses to get by. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr. Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.
In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her—the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself, and the larger legacy of the past she left behind.
The story of Mona’s journey to find her place in this working-class American world is at once hilarious and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunningly one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.
Beagin’s novel, released earlier this month, is one of the most anticipated literary debuts of the year. Beagin won the prestigious Whiting Award before the book was published and it’s topping What’s Hot lists all over the place.
Kirkus Reviews said: “What gives this novel its heart is Beagin’s capacity for seeing: As Mona cleans peoples’ homes, we learn that the wealthy, well-dressed, superior individuals who pay her to scrub their toilets are just as messed up as the addicts and prostitutes and gamblers she encounters outside of work. This is not a new theme, of course, but Beagin makes it fresh with her sly, funny, compassionate voice. This is a terrific debut.”
If you are a man and you want to be a writer, you have two things you must do: 1. Write a book; and 2. Look more like Ernest Hemingway. That is the curriculum. When aged, experienced folks in the publishing industry ask young writers, “Have you read Hemingway,” they are really asking if you have fully embraced the possibility of facial hair. If you can grow a beard, have you tried growing his beard? If you cannot grow a beard like Hemingway’s, then that’s fine too. Your author photo will just be seriously lacking.
If you need inspiration on how to style your facial vegetation, or you want fuel for your imagination of what a beard might look like on your hairless face, then look no further than these literary greats.
1. Mark Twain
I also don’t know how he ate. | Image Via Biography
2. Friedrich Nietzche
I don’t think this even counts as a face. It’s 90% hair. | Image Via Encyclopedia Britannica
3. Michael Chabon
When you want to look like you don’t give a care, but you sneaky give many cares. | Image Via Pioneer Press
4. Walt Whitman
Tolkien’s inspiration for Radagast the Brown. | Image Via Social Justice For All
5. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Rocking the neckbeard since 1821. Beat that, reddit. | Image Via The Arc of Grace
6. Herman Melville
For those who wish a box hung off their jaw. | Image Via Bio
7. William Faulkner
What you get when googling “debonair.” | Image Via Bio
8. Terry Pratchett
A beard as sharp as his wit. | Image Via Humanists UK
9. Patrick Rothfuss
That beard is older than me. | Image Via Wikipedia