By Patrick M
You may already know that in 1924 Gilbert Seldes published a book called The Seven Lively Arts, which was one of the first attempts at claiming that the low- and middle-brow offerings of popular culture (American popular culture, specifically) were as valid as the highbrow, and in some ways more vital. What you might not know is that even though he lived until 1970, Seldes never wrote a follow-up book called Oh Wait Here Are Two More Lively Arts They Are Comic Books and Their Precursor Genre Fiction Specifically The Pulps (possibly hopes for doing so were quashed by the release of Seduction of the Innocent by professional expert witness Fredric Wertham, which covered similar territory with different conclusions). Continue reading
On the back cover of my (and probably your) copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the Chicago Tribune is cited for deeming Michael Chabon “a reader’s writer; with sentences so cozy they’ll wrap you up and kiss you goodnight,” suggesting that the novel’s six hundred and thirty-six pages, though menacing, would be knocked out in no time (and, particularly, right before going to bed). Continue reading
By Mr. Xenophon
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
All golem making recalls God’s creation of Adam—from the traditional recipe of earth and breath, to the initial purity of purpose, the inevitable corruption of that purpose, and finally redemption through death. Continue reading
EDITOR’S NOTE: Y’ALL know what fuckin SUCKS? FOOD POISONING. Awful. I spent PRETTY MUCH all day yesterday EITHER VOMITING or asleep. As such I’D LIKE TO apologize to the READERS AND WRITERS for not posting THIS on time. I’ve bumped EVERYTHING A DAY back and promise NO FURTHER interruptions. WITHOUT further ADO, LET’S GET TALKIN!
When I first heard of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, it was described as a novel about comic books. After finishing/ loving the novel (and probably because of the artistic insecurities that accompany a chronic superhero comic book habit), I was against it being simplified as a novel about comic books. It is a novel about so many things! War, the immigrant experience, secret identities, family, the American dream, and love are all huge parts of the novel. For shame, America, to regard such a great work so shallowly, so tersely. Rereading the novel for Bookgum, I realized that being a novel about comic books and being a novel about any of those other things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, calling the novel a comic book novel is an appropriate way to describe Kavalier & Clay. It interacts with the real world much in the same way comic books interact with the real world. In his author’s note, Chabon explains, “I have tried to respect history and geography wherever doing so served my purposes as a novelist, but wherever it d not I have, cheerfully or with regret, ignored them.” Like creating superheroes to convey fantasies of escape, Chabon creates Josef Kavalier and Sammy Clay to convey the spirit of America around the Second World War. Continue reading
HEY Y’ALL! How was Y’ALLS Christmas AND NEW YEARS? Mine was fucking CRAZY, SO I APOLOGIZE for not BEING ON the ball as MUCH AS I SHOULD BE. ANYWAYS, NEXT WEEK is gonna be FUCKIN KILLER AS WE discuss The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay! GET PUMPED. OUR WRITERS are gonna be
Chris Grawl (SORRY BUDDY DON’T HAVE YOUR VGUM NAME YET)
IT’S GONNA be awesome. Also, don’t FORGET WE are gonna be talking ABOUT A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS at the end of this month. ALSO, SOME BOOKGUM changes are in the WORKS so stay tuned y’all!
WOW Y’ALL. In October, I WAS SUPER worried BOOKGUM WAS gonna blow up in my FACE, AND THEN when it went SO WELL, I thought this MONTH WAS GONNA get all crazy slow. IT DIDN’T! Y’ALL still KILLED it despite THE PROBLEMS OF THE Holidays. I don’t HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD here other than feel FREE TO DISCUSS whatever wasn’t COVERED IN REGARDS to NEVER LET ME GO and don’t FORGET THAT NEXT MONTH we are reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Continue reading
When the Patriot asked us to provide him with our topics, I had not yet begun to read Never Let Me Go. I opted for “sex and sexuality” because it seemed like a safe bet that there would be some of that floating around somewhere, even if I had to cheat a bit and incorporate some of what is popularly called “gender” into the mix. As a man attending a women’s college, I can assure you that there is a deep vein of gender gold in there, but I will not be mining it. There is so much sex in this book! Seriously, for a book about people who are made using asexual reproduction, this thing is packed with sex. And for a book full of non-procreative sex, it is remarkably unerotic.
Of course, that the book centers on the lives of sterile clones makes the biological purpose of sex that much more significant thematically. The first real mention of sex in the book is when Kathy recalls listening to her tape of Judy Bridgewater’s “Never Let Me Go” and imagining herself as a mother by way of some miracle. Because the Hailsham students (and their less fortunate fellows) are not the products of sex, they are inhuman in the eyes of their world. Because they cannot have children, their eventual use as spare parts is the only legacy that the world believes they can offer. Sex as a means of creating new life is presented as the defining aspect of humanity. Continue reading