Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue

3.4 43
by Michael Chabon
     
 

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“An immensely gifted writer and magical prose stylist.”
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon has transported readers to wonderful places: to New York City during the Golden Age of comic books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier &

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Overview

“An immensely gifted writer and magical prose stylist.”
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon has transported readers to wonderful places: to New York City during the Golden Age of comic books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay); to an imaginary Jewish homeland in Sitka, Alaska (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union); to discover The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Now he takes us to Telegraph Avenue in a big-hearted and exhilarating novel that explores the profoundly intertwined lives of two Oakland, California families, one black and one white. In Telegraph Avenue, Chabon lovingly creates a world grounded in pop culture—Kung Fu, ’70s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music—and delivers a bravura epic of friendship, race, and secret histories.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
…an amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story that addresses [Chabon's] perennial themes—about fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and the consolations of art—while reaching outward to explore the relationship between time past and time present, the weight (or lightness, as the case may be) of history, and the possibility of redemption and forgiveness…Mr. Chabon can write about just about anything…And write about it not as an author regurgitating copious amounts of research, but with a real, lived-in sense of empathy and passion…for the most part he does such a graceful job of ventriloquism with his characters that the reader forgets they are fictional creations. [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.
—Michiko Kakutani
The New York Times Book Review
…Michael Chabon's rich, comic new novel, is a homage to an actual place: the boulevard in Northern California where Oakland—historically an African-American city—aligns with Berkeley, whose bourgeois white inhabitants are, as one character puts it, "liable to invest all their hope of heaven in the taste of an egg laid in the backyard by a heritage-breed chicken"…Much of the wit in Telegraph Avenue inheres in Chabon's astonishing prose. I don't just mean the showy bits: a ­12-page-long sentence that includes the observations of an escaped parrot, or the lovely, credible scene from Obama's point of view. I mean the offhand brilliance that happens everywhere…
—Jennifer Egan
Publishers Weekly
Virtuosity” is the word most commonly associated with Chabon, and if Telegraph Avenue, the latest from the 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. Set during the Bush/Kerry election, in Chabon’s home of Berkeley, Calif., it follows the flagging fortunes of Brokeland Records, a vintage record store on the titular block run by Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, currently threatened with closure by Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback-turned-entrepreneur Gibson “G Bad” Goode’s plans to “restore, at a stroke, the commercial heart of a black neighborhood” with one of his Dogpile “Thang” emporiums. The community mobilizes and confronts this challenge to the relative racial harmony enjoyed by the white Jaffe; his gay Tarantino-enthusiast son, Julie; and the African-American Archy, whose partner, Gwen Shanks, is not only pregnant but finds the midwife business she runs with Aviva, Jaffe’s wife, in legal trouble following a botched delivery. Making matters worse is Stallings’s father, Luther, a faded blaxploitation movie star with a Black Panther past, and the appearance of Titus, the son Archy didn’t know he had. All the elements of a socially progressive contemporary novel are in place, but Chabon’s preference for retro—the reader is seldom a page away from a reference to Marvel comics, kung fu movies, or a coveted piece of ’70s vinyl—quickly wears out its welcome. Worse, Chabon’s approach to race is surprisingly short on nuance and marred by a goofy cameo from a certain charismatic senator from Illinois. 15-city author tour. Agent: Mary Evans. (Sept. 11)
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.”
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.”
Boston Globe
“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.”
O magazine
“An exhilarating, bighearted novel.”
Esquire
“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.”
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.”
GQ
“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.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A dazzling display of sheer writing ability from the prodigiously talented Chabon.”
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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Library Journal
If any novelist can pack the entire American zeitgeist into 500 pages, it's Chabon (The Yiddish Policeman's Union). Here, he deftly treads race, class, gender, and generation lines, showing how they continue to define us even as they're crossed. In 2004, in an enclave bordered by Berkeley and Oakland, Brokeland Records sells used vinyl records and serves as the de facto community center. The owners are Archy Stallings, totally down on his dad, once a blaxploitation star, and earnest, Jewish Nat Jaffe. Their wives are Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, the Berkeley Birth Partners, renowned local midwives. All's well until former NFL quarterback Gibson Goode threatens to build a megastore nearby, effectively shuttering Brokeland but promising jobs in a poor, mostly black neighborhood. Meanwhile, a complicated delivery causes trouble for the Birth Partners. And that's only a tiny sampling of what happens in this prodigious novel. VERDICT Ambitious, densely written, sometimes very funny, and fabulously over the top, here's a rare book that really could be the great American novel. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/5/12.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
An end-of-an-era epic celebrating the bygone glories of vinyl records, comic-book heroes and blaxploitation flicks in a world gone digital. The novelist, his characters and the readers who will most love this book all share a passion for popular culture and an obsession with period detail. Set on the grittier side in the Bay Area of the fairly recent past (when multimedia megastores such as Tower and Virgin were themselves predators rather than casualties to online commerce), the plot involves generational relationships between two families, with parallels that are more thematically resonant than realistic. Two partners own a used record store that has become an Oakland neighborhood institution, "the church of vinyl." One of the partners, Archy Stallings, is black, and he is estranged from his father, a broken-down former B-movie action hero, as well as from the teenage son he never knew about who has arrived in Oakland from Texas to complicate the plot. The other partner is Nat Jaffe, white and Jewish, whose wife is also partners with Archy's wife in midwifery (a profession as threatened as selling used vinyl), and whose son develops a crush on Archy's illegitimate son. The plot encompasses a birth and a death against the backdrop of the encroachment of a chain superstore, owned by a legendary athlete, which threatens to squash Archy and Nat's Brokeland Records, all amid a blackmailing scheme dating back to the Black Panther heyday. Yet the warmth Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, 2000, etc.) feels toward his characters trumps the intricacies and implausibilities of the plot, as the novel straddles and blurs all sorts of borders: black and white, funk and jazz, Oakland and Berkeley, gay and straight. And the resolution justifies itself with an old musicians' joke: " ‘You know it's all going to work out in the end?' " says one character. " ‘No....But I guess I can probably fake it,' " replies another. The evocation of "Useless, by James Joyce" attests to the humor and ambition of the novel, as if this were a Joyce-an remix with a hipper rhythm track.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062124609
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/11/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
77,356
File size:
1 MB

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