5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
Author: Michael Chabon
Areas Featured: Midtown, Flatiron
While the climactic moment atop the Empire State Building offers the most iconic image from Michael Chabon's masterpiece, its the early moments in the lives of the young artists that will resonate with anyone who's ever moved somewhere with a dream. The cautious, yet joyous labors of Sammy and Joe during their early days in New York, and the ups and down of their friendship as their careers take shape, must feel deeply familiar to any actor, musician, artist, or writer who has cracked this tome.
While reading, one is struck, not only by Chabon's clear love for the art of comic books, but also his admiration for the creation of art. The latter is one of the things that helps Kavalier and Clay take up permanent residence in the back of the reader's mind. This excerpt likely feels all too familiar to many twentysomething New Yorkers spread across Queens, Brooklyn, and the still-affordable pockets of Manhattan:
"In the immemorial style of young men under pressure, they decided to lie down for a while and waste time. They took their shoes off, rolled up their shirtsleeves, and loosened their neckties. They moved ashtrays around, swept stacks of magazines to the floor, put a record on, and generally acted as if they owned the place. They were in the room where the boy-genius artists kept their drawing tables and taborets, a room variously referred to by its occupants over the years as the Bullpen, the Pit, the Rathole, and Palooka Studios, the latter a name often applied to the entire apartment, to the building, occasionally to the neighborhood, and even, on grim, hungover, hacking mornings with a view out the bathroom window of a sunrise the color of bourbon and ash, to the whole damn stinking world." —BG