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Telegraph Avenue

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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, two semi-legendary 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, two semi-legendary 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 fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe's life.

An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we've been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon's most dazzling book yet.

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  • Telegraph Avenue
    Telegraph Avenue  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Over the years, old band mates Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe have woven themselves into the fabric of their Southern California community. Drifting into middle age, they can bask in the residual nostalgia of their used-record shop and rest easy, knowing that their spouses' humane nurse midwife practice has made them local legends. Their tranquility threatens to dissolve, however, with the looming arrival of a megastore owned by affluent former NFL quarterback. That the moneyed superstar is an African American only complicates the mix. This large-scale novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon (Summerland; The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) brilliantly captures the nuances of race, commerce, class, and embattled progressivism. A bestseller; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

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.”
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.”
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.”
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
Library Journal
Race, corporatism, and last-stand idealism: who better to explore these themes than Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon, whose linguistic razzle-dazzle discloses acute observations about our shared culture—and its borders. It's 2004, and longtime band mates Archy and Nat (married to beloved local midwives) still preside over Brokeland Records, a used-record emporium and de facto town center in a fictional space somewhere between Berkeley and Oakland. All's well until a former NFL quarterback, one of the country's richest African Americans, decides to build his latest Dogpile megastore on nearby Telegraph Avenue. Not only could this spell doom for the little shop and its cross-race, cross-class dream, but it opens up past history regarding Archy's untethered dad and a Black Panther-era crime. With a one-day laydown on September 11, a 300,000-copy first printing, and a 13-city tour.
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.
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
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."
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.”
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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061493348
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 770,690
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.54 (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:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

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(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Great read

    I love how Chabon has this ability to suck you into a story, to really know his characters and build from there. Pick this up and you wont regret it

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    This book is simply pitch perfect. Only my second Chabon, and I

    This book is simply pitch perfect. Only my second Chabon, and I intend to read them all. Never in the world thought I would care about most of these characters, but I do. I really do. This is a writer who could most likely make me like just about anyone he cares about.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    Brokeland Nostalgia

    I was going to suggest that the only improvement on this book would be to include a sound track. Maybe the "enhanced" edition does just that; shame on Barnes & Noble for not saying in its Overview. I thought the book was profound as could be and VERY funny. And I'm still wondering what happened to Fifty-Eight. -- catwak

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant Writing

    Tele­graph Avenue by Michael Chabon is a lit­er­ary fic­tion book in which the author jams so much in it’s a won­der the novel is not twice the size. Mr. Chabon is a Pulitzer prize win­ning author for his 2001 book The Amaz­ing Adven­tures of Kava­lier & Clay.

    Nat Jaffe and Archy Stallings are the own­ers of Broke­land Records, one of the few bas­tions of vinyl record stores left in Oak­land, CA circa 2004. In comes Gib­son Goode, ex-NFL star, multi-millionaire and entre­pre­neur who wants to open his Dog­pile mega­s­tore in the area. The mega­s­tore will force Broke­land Records, who are strug­gling as it is, to close.

    Nat’s wife, Aviva, and Archy’s wife, Gwen, are hav­ing their own strug­gles – they are mid­wives who have deliv­ered thou­sands of babies until one deliv­ery goes wrong and quickly turns ugly.

    Tele­graph Avenue by Michael Chabon is a strange book, if Quentin Taran­tino wrote a book I’d imag­ined it would be some­thing like this – bet­ter yet, if you had to read a Quentin Taran­tino movie, it would be exactly like this. A schiz­o­phrenic expe­ri­ence which will leave you dazed and some­what con­fused until things will clear up a few pages down – only for the cycle to be repeated again and again.

    The strange­ness doesn’t come from the story, which is quite sim­ple, but from the art­ful sto­ry­telling. There are many pop-culture ref­er­ences (includ­ing many to Taran­tino him­self), music, books, movies, TV shows and some made up ref­er­ences which only exist within the realm of the book.
    While I do enjoy pop-culture ref­er­ences in my read­ing, the sheer amount made the book dif­fi­cult to read, albeit enjoy­able in its own unique way. I’m usu­ally pretty good about esti­mat­ing how long a book would take me to read, this one took twice as long and could have eas­ily been more than that.

    So keep your favorite Inter­net search engine close by – you’ll need it.

    That being said, the book is rid­dled pop-culture and music. Many fine authors can write about pop-culture, but Chabon is the only one who can write music. Not writ­ing “about” music, but writ­ing music. When Chabon writes about a music pas­sage, I could almost hear it in my head even though I had no idea what he was refer­ring to, whether it was or wasn’t what I heard doesn’t mat­ter – I heard it.

    This book is a col­lege professor’s dream. You can cre­ate a whole course around it with ease. The book some­times goes into so many details it’s frus­trat­ing, but the obser­va­tions about our cul­ture and Amer­i­can lifestyles are encour­ag­ing and inter­est­ing. Of course, it could all be a smoke screen as Chabon says himself:

    "some Jew­ish dude try­ing to think like an ass-kicking soul sister".

    I felt the book was too long (some of the descrip­tions seem to go on for­ever), yet despite a need for an edi­tor, Chabon has man­aged to pro­duce another good book with excel­lent prose. I thought that the 12 page sen­tence was a lit­er­ary mar­vel which only few

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    Oakland is Brought to Life

    If you have spent any time around Telegraph Avenue, on the Berkeley-Oakland border, this book will have great meaning and resonate for you. The characters are just that and it flows nicely with these characters in an ensemble fashion, weaving in the subplots of jazz on vinyl, political corruption and familial love. There are several stories being told, all of which grab the reader and hold until resolution... including Fifty-Eight the parrot's escape, written in a James Joyce style. A great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Delightfully difficult

    If you've lived in the East Bay of San Francisco for 55 years you'll identify with Michael Chabon's book. There's so much nostalgia both in places and people that anyone growing up in the area will say, "been there, done that." The downside of the book is long strings of adjectives describing a person or place that you've lost track of by the time you get to a full stop. This said, Chabon is a master of fun insights and expressions, my favorite in Telegraph Avenue is Aviva saying her husband is "unable to organize an empty drawer".
    Michael Chabon captures the length of Telegraph Avenue stretching from Oakland to berkeley, from the vinyl '60s to the near present, and from black to liberal white lifestyles with a heavy smattering of kosher mixed with jazz. Persevere and be rewarded wonderfully. Way to go Michael.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    An aquired taste

    It took me a while to warm up to these characters, so the virtuosity of Chabon's prose felt a bit like a dry exercise. I did eventually come to sympathize with them and ended up reading most of the book in one long binge. The accumulating layers of problems and looming disasters faced by Archie, Nat and their various family members kept me turning pages, though i felt Chabon wrapped up all the loose ends too neatly to give readers a happy ending for everyone. Then i looked back and reconsidered the story as a kind of fable rather than an attempt at realism and that helped me appreciate rhe novel more. There are some interesting themes that I enjoyed mulling over as I read, and some funny lines, and of course, beautiful, brainy prose.


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2012

    enjoyed the storytelling and colorful use of language...yes, it

    enjoyed the storytelling and colorful use of language...yes, it took too long to tell it..and yes, at times it was ego eccentric in the telling...yet the story had to be told..and indeed told grandly..loved the hipness, culturally and phonetically...saw the characters in the story as real and heard the words they used in the process....left hanging on a point though..what happened to archy's dad??

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Favorite Chabon so far

    ... and I am a big fan of Cavalier & Clay and Yiddish Policemens Union. He captures the funky characters and setting of Brokeland perfectly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    K hkkm.k.b bhh byy

    Bykyy k mbub b

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    excellent service

    this is a gift for my sister - she will be thrilled with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    Great book,and really good story.love it and once I get done rea

    Great book,and really good story.love it and once I get done reading it,I have to read it aging over and over aging. Pleas book worms this book. You will enjoy it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    I wanted to love it, but couldn't. I bought the audio version -

    I wanted to love it, but couldn't. I bought the audio version - at a great expense- and gave up after listening to about half the book. I just couldn't warm up to the characters and oh my goodness - the over usage of metaphors was simply enough to hit my head against the steering wheel while driving. Plus, the narrator was horrible. So disappointed and what a waste of $45! Seriously, this guy is a Pulitzer prize winning author? What for most amount of metaphors used in one book? Ugh!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Awful

    Too bad he can't write as good as his wife, save your money.this is another bomb

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 26, 2012

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    Posted October 28, 2012

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    Posted May 6, 2013

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    Posted October 12, 2012

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    Posted May 13, 2013

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    Posted September 30, 2013

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