Over the course of the last week, in the guise of the Escapist, Master of Elusion, Joe had flown to Europe (in a midnight-blue autogyro), stormed the towered Schloss of the nefarious Steel Gauntlet, freed Plum Blossom from its deep dungeon, defeated the Gauntlet in protracted two-fisted combat, been captured by the Gauntlet's henchmen and dragged off to Berlin, where he was strapped to a bizarre multiple guillotine that would have sliced him like a hard-boiled egg while the Führer himself smugly looked on. Naturally, patiently, indomitably, he had worked his way loose of his riveted steel bonds and hurled himself at the throat of the dictator. At this point—with twenty pages to go until the Charles Atlas ad on the inside back cover—an entire Wehrmacht division had come between the Escapist's fingers and that gravely desired larynx. Over the course of the next eighteen pages, in panels that crowded, jostled, piled one on top of the other, and threatened to burst the margins of the page, the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, and the Escapist had duked it out. With the Steel Gauntlet out of the picture, it was a fair fight. On the very last page, in a transcendent moment in the history of wishful figments, the Escapist had captured Adolf Hitler and dragged him before a world tribunal. Head finally bowed in defeat and shame, Hitler was sentenced to die for his crimes against humanity. The war was over; a universal era of peace was declared, the imprisoned and persecuted peoples of Europe—among them, implicitly and passionately, the Kavalier family of Prague—were free.I had read this long ago, but enjoyed returning to it. It's a great story of two young Jewish cousins in New York during the second world war, who break into comics and become super-successful very quickly. But one of them is gay, and the other is struggling to bring his family to America from Nazi-occupied Europe. The detail is beautiful - Al Smith and the late Stan Lee get walk-on roles; the comics of Kavalier and Clay are slotted neatly into the real history of the Golden Age. The story is told with sympathy and humour, slipping into epic mode at the moments of tragedy. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction back in 2001, and deservedly so. You can get it here.
This was the top book in my library that I had read but not previously written up online. Next in that sequence is Candide, by Voltaire.