Books: It’s Superman!: A Novel, by Tom De Haven (Chronicle Books, 2005, 425 pages)
This is one of the best novels I’ve read all year.
Not because author Tom De Haven tells us, for instance, how Superman got his costume – though he does that and more – but because of how he does so. It’s as if De Haven effortlessly placed himself in 1935 New York City and wrote the novel there, in the present tense.
Characters with names like Soda Wauters are somehow perfectly believable as real people. It becomes completely credible that New York City Alderman Lex Luthor is in the process of taking over the world with robots. Using only words, De Haven has crafted a story that immerses us as fully as any really good comic book or graphic novel ever has. It seems he’s found a way to make a word be worth a picture or two.
Giving just the right amount of weight to each detail, De Haven shows us Clark Kent, Lois Lane et al. as cartoonier-than-life characters in a cartoonier-than-life world that feels utterly, colorfully, bam-splat-POW! real. The plot (a braid of a few intertwined storylines) moves like a locomotive; you can almost smell the movie popcorn and feel the salt on your fingers as you turn the pages.
If the Superman story had never existed before, this would be it.
— Lisa Parsons