Telegraph Avenue LP: A Novel

Overview

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there—longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of semilegendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands ...

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Overview

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there—longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of semilegendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands Brokeland.

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in America, announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples' already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of 15-year-old Julius Jaffe's life.

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
“An amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story….[Chabon’s] people become so real to us, their problems so palpably netted in the author’s buoyant, expressionistic prose, that the novel gradually becomes a genuinely immersive experience—something increasingly rare in our ADD age.”
Cathleen Schine
“Chabon is an extraordinarily generous writer. He is generous to his characters, to his landscapes, to syntax, to words, to his readers—there is a real joy in his work….Both ambitious and lighthearted, the novel is a touching, gentle, comic meditation.”
John Freeman
“Astounding....steamrolls the barrier that has kept the Great American Novel at odds with the country it’s supposed to reflect....[A] huge-hearted, funny, improbably hip book.”
Jess Walter
“Forget Joycean or Bellovian or any other authorial allusion. Telegraph Avenue might best be described as Chabonesque. Exuberantly written, generously peopled, its sentences go off like a summer fireworks show, in strings of bursting metaphor.”
Jennifer Egan
“Chabon has made a career of routing big, ambitious projects through popular genres, with superlative results….The scale of Telegraph Avenue is no less ambitious….Much of the wit...inheres in Chabon’s astonishing prose. I don’t just mean the showy bits…I mean the offhand brilliance that happens everywhere.”
Robin Micheli
“The writing - stylized, humorous and often dazzling - is inflected with tones of jazz and funk. But it’s Chabon’s ear for the sounds of the human soul that make this book a masterpiece, as his vividly drawn characters learn to live at the intersection of disappointment and hope.”
Carolyn Kellogg
Telegraph Avenue is so exuberant, it’s as if Michael Chabon has pulled joy from the air and squeezed it into the shape of words....His sentences spring, bounce, set off sparklers, even when dwelling in mundane details….Fantastic.”
Ron Charles
“Witty and compassionate and full of more linguistic derring-do than any other writer in American could carry off.”
O magazine
“An exhilarating, bighearted novel.”
Benjamin Percy
“A genuinely moving story about race and class, parenting and marriage…Chabon is inarguably one of the greatest prose stylists of all time, powering out sentences that are the equivalent of executing a triple back flip on a bucking bull while juggling chain saws and making love to three women.”
Jake Austen
“A jam that grooves, entertains, entrances and sticks in your head with infectious melodies….[Chabon] is a hypnotizing master of language, crafting fresh descriptors for familiar functions, poetic detours that never sacrifice narrative flow, well-oiled metaphorical machinations, and seamless time travelling that makes the phrase ‘flashback’ seem obsolete.”
Elle
“Chabon’s hugely likable characters all face crises of existential magnitude, rendered in an Electra Glide flow of Zen sentences and zinging metaphors that make us wish the needle would never arrive at the final groove.”
Associated Press Staff
“[Chabon] is a truly gifted writer of prose: He writes long, luxurious sentences that swoop and meander before circling back in on themselves, not infrequently approximating the improvisational jazz that Archy and Nat hold so dear.”
Cliff Froehlich
“As always, Chabon’s gorgeous prose astonishes, particularly in the Joycean chapter ‘A Bird of Wide Experience’….Like that colorful bird, Telegraph Avenue dazzles and soars.”
Mike Fischer
“Spectacular.”
Robert Bianco
“A moving, sprawling, modern-day tale that uses the improvisational shifts and rhythms of jazz and soul to tell the story of two couples….With seeming ease, Chabon shifts from high-wire flourishes…to moments of crystalline simplicity.”
Sam Sacks
“Fresh, unpretentious, delectably written….For all his explorations into the contentious dynamics of family, race and community, Mr. Chabon’s first desire is simply to enchant with words. Eight novels in, he still uses language like someone amazed by a newly discovered superpower.”
Kelsey Dake
“A beautiful, prismatic maximalism of description and tone, a sly meditation on appropriation as the real engine of integration, and an excellent rationale for twelve-page sentences.”
Rob Brunner
“He writes with such warmth and humor and sheer enthusiasm - for his characters, for the rhythms and atmosphere of Oakland, for geek culture, for the mysterious power of music, which he captures with uncommon descriptive virtuosity - that by the end it’s hard to resist this charmingly earnest book.”
David Walton
“This is a novel rich in story and character, rich in its dialogue and descriptions, rich in spirit and invention - and full of sharp, funny writing….The spirit of Telegraph Avenue is one of union and reconciliation, a welcome, exuberant voice in our fractious times.”
Troy Patterson
“A buoyant novel, written with the author’s typical stylistic elegance and empathetic imagination….His prose is as energizing as ever, in part because he’s always willing to try high-risk maneuvers up on the figurative balance beam.”
Sherryl Connelly
“One of Chabon’s great gifts is an ability to beguile us with prose that exudes warmth into seeing ourselves in others, to even know them as ourselves. It’s a feat that parlays Telegraph Avenue, with its diverse population, into an All-American novel, one of the great ones.”
starred review Booklist
“A magnificently crafted, exuberantly alive, emotionally lustrous, and socially intricate saga....Bubbling with lovingly curated knowledge about everything from jazz to pregnancy…Chabon’s rhapsodically detailed, buoyantly plotted, warmly intimate cross-cultural tale of metamorphoses is electric with suspense, humor, and bebop dialogue….An embracing, radiant masterpiece.”
Zane Jungman
“A stylized, rapturous novel….Telegraph Avenue entertains with a riotous mashup of comics, kung fu, ‘70s jazz and family strife, but at the core lie some startlingly sober revelations.”
Emily SImon
“Chabon has a near effortless ability to reveal the huge universal human truths that scaffold absurdly specific circumstances, and he does so on nearly every page here.”
Michael Bourne
“A sparkling, mesmerizing read….That’s what Chabon’s books do, sentence after sentence, page after page: they force you to bring your game up to his level….His writer’s eye makes the world a more vivid, vital place to live.”
Diane Cole
“An achingly poignant vibe of sweet and soulful idealism makes itself heard throughout Telegraph Avenue….It’s a dream worth imagining, and Chabon does so with skill, charm, and no small amount of virtuosic writing.”
Kathryn Schulz
“[Telegraph Avenue] has a Great American Novel heft to it—probably because, all caps aside, it is a great American novel.”
Dan Cryer
“Chabon not only knows how [his characters] feel, but how they talk. His dialogue is a thing to behold, the plot unrelenting. And I can’t imagine any writer, male or female, ever delivering a more breathtaking description of a woman giving birth. Some midwife, this Chabon.”
Ben Pfeiffer
“Displays both his sense of ordinary people’s inner lives and his rich, freewheeling prose….A dense, flavorful book about race, class, politics, culture and sexuality, as expansive and ambitious as anything Chabon has published to date….An essential, unforgettable read.”
Jeremy Garber
“His most mature, accessible fiction to date…An engrossing, well-crafted drama of family and friendship….Chabon’s storytelling gifts seem to know no bounds, and the dexterity with which he crafts his beautiful prose is often breathtaking.”
Bob Hoover
“A dazzling star turn of a novel that showcases Chabon’s writing talents like a digital TV screen above Times Square….Chabon does love popular culture, but he loves humanity more, and that love is the power behind this sweeping novel.”
Robert Christgau
“Chabon’s inventiveness requires language dazzling and deft enough to put it across, and like most of his later work, Telegraph Avenue reads easy - I downed 300 pages flying back from Denmark, stopping only to eat and nap.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A dazzling display of sheer writing ability from the prodigiously talented Chabon.”
John Broening
“Michael Chabon is the Michael Jordan of American novelists….Telegraph Avenue could serve as a master class on how to write a novel.”
Darin Strauss
“As ever, Chabon is a performing magician. He can take any topic and stage it so the crowd smiles and even oohs its amazement….Chabon makes a grab for the entire world in a single bighearted book.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An end-of-an era epic....A Joyce-an remix with a hipper rhythm track.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“If any novelist can pack the entire American zeitgeist into 500 pages, it’s Chabon....Ambitious, densely written, sometimes very funny, and fabulously over the top, here’s a rare book that really could be the great American novel.”
Publishers Weekly
“’Virtuosity’ is the word most commonly associated with Chabon, and if Telegraph Avenue, the latest from Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, is at first glance less conceptual than its predecessors, the sentences are no less remarkable.”
O Magazine
"An exhilarating, bighearted novel."
Booklist
"A magnificently crafted, exuberantly alive, emotionally lustrous, and socially intricate saga....Bubbling with lovingly curated knowledge about everything from jazz to pregnancy…Chabon’s rhapsodically detailed, buoyantly plotted, warmly intimate cross-cultural tale of metamorphoses is electric with suspense, humor, and bebop dialogue….An embracing, radiant masterpiece."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062201454
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 784
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Summerland (a novel for children), The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and Gentlemen of the Road, as well as the short story collections A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth and the essay collections Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs. He is the chairman of the board of the MacDowell Colony. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.

Biography

In 1987, at 24, Michael Chabon was living a graduate student's dream. His masters thesis for the writing program at UC Irvine, a novel called The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was not only published -- it was published to the tune of a $155,000 advance, a six-figure first printing, a movie deal, and a place on the bestseller lists. Mysteries, a coming-of-age story about a man caught between romances with a man on one side, a woman on the other, and the shadow of his gangster father over it all, drew readers with its elegant prose and an irresistibly cool character, Art Bechstein, racing through a long, hot summer.

Following this auspicious debut, Chabon penned a follow-up short story collection, then hit a serious snag. After five years of fits and starts, he abandoned a troublesome work in progress and began work on another novel, a wry, smart book about, natch, an author hoplessly stuck writing his endless, shapeless novel! With 1995's Wonder Boys and its successful film adaptation by Curtis Hanson, Chabon found both critical praise and a wider audience.

In the year 2000, Chabon rose to the challenge of attempting something on a more epic scale. That something was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the story of two young, Jewish comic book artists in the 1940s. Like Chabon's other books, it explored a relationship between two men and dealt with their maturation. But unlike his other books, the novel was grander in scope and theme, blending the world of comic books, the impact of World War II, and the lives of his characters. It won a Pulitzer, and secured Chabon's place as an American talent unafraid to paint broad landscapes with minute detail and aching emotion.

Chabon's ability to capture modern angst in funny, intelligently plotted stories has earned him comparisons to everyone from Fitzgerald to DeLillo, but he has fearlessly wandered outside the conventions of the novel to write screenplays, children's books, comics, and pulp adventures. Clearly, Michael Chabon views his highly praised talent as a story that hasn't yet reached its climax.

Good To Know

Chabon usually writes from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

He has a side interest in television writing, having written a pilot for CBS (House of Gold) that did not get picked up, and a second one for TNT.

Chabon also has an interest in screenwriting; he was attached to X-Men but dropped from the project when director Bryan Singer signed on. Now he is adapting The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for the big screen.

After slaving for five years on a book called Fountain City (parts of which can be read on his web site), Chabon finally decided it was not going to jell and abandoned it. At a low point, he switched gears and began Wonder Boys, the story (of course) of an author hopelessly stuck writing his endless, shapeless novel.

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    1. Hometown:
      Berkeley, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 24, 1963
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Pittsburgh; M.F.A., University of California at Irvine
    2. Website:

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