What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
by Michael Chabon

Field-Tested by Jason Santa Maria

in Tulum, Mexico

I got married in October of 2005. My wife and I decided to go on a cruise that departed from New Orleans. Shortly after we booked our trip, Hurricane Katrina hit. Afterwards, our cruise was rescheduled to leave from Houston. Days later, another hurricane was on a collision course with Houston. Taking this as an omen, we cancelled and booked a getaway at a resort in Tulum, Mexico. On my way out the door, I grabbed my copy of Kavalier & Clay, a book I had bought months before but never found the time to read.

In Mexico, reading and sipping all-inclusive drinks on the beach, I immediately became entranced by Chabon's witty pulp styling. The novel reads like a comic book that grew up, leaving behind onomatopoeic sound effects and forcing its heroes to deal with real problems. From the moment the young escape artist, Josef Kavalier, fled Prague by sharing a coffin with a golem, I was hooked.

Josef escapes to New York where he and his cousin, Sam Clay, create comic books staring a superhero of their own creation, the Escapist, with stories inspired by Josef's own escape and the dream of reuniting with the family he had to leave behind.

Halfway through the week, Hurricane Wilma threatened the Mayan Riviera. Our hotel evacuated us inland to a vocational school that served as a shelter. We spent four days with intermittent power and water, sleeping head-to-toe on the floor with 40 other ex-hotel refugees.

The book's themes of escape and returning to loved ones never rang so true to me. Somewhere in the middle of Mexico, on my honeymoon at the fringe of a hurricane, I sat furiously smoking — an old habit picked up again during the stressful lead-up to the wedding — and devouring a book that spoke to me alone. Eventually, we did indeed escape; back to the near-ravaged hotel, and eventually home again, the book I took with me severely underscoring our "amazing adventure."

Jason Santa Maria is a graphic designer in Brooklyn, New York and can often be found drooling and wheezing at his website.

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