- File Size: 1067 KB
- Print Length: 643 pages
- Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
- Publication Date: September 11, 2012
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007HBH2EW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,657 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Telegraph Avenue: A Novel Kindle Edition
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“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.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)
“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.” (Boston Globe)
“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.” (Jennifer Egan, New York Times Book Review (cover review))
“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.” (Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times Book Review)
“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.” (Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal)
“Witty and compassionate and full of more linguistic derring-do than any other writer in American could carry off.” (Washington Post)
“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.” (Esquire)
“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.” (Elle)
“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.” (GQ)
“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.” (Booklist, starred review)
“’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.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Expect its publication to be one of the bigger literary events of the year, akin to the release of The Marriage Plot this year or Freedom in 2010.” (The Atlantic)
“An end-of-an era epic....A Joyce-an remix with a hipper rhythm track.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“An exhilarating, bighearted novel.” (O magazine)
“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.” (Library Journal (starred review))
About the Author
Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Moonglow and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, among many others. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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But would I recommend this book to others? That depends. Does the mention of Wakanda or the blue area of the moon stir childhood memories within you? Have you whiled away hours watching blaxploitation films? Does the close proximity of the words "Mirror, Mirror" and "goatee" make you instantly think of Star Trek?
If you answered no to those questions, then, no, I don't recommend the book to you. Like many of the 1 and 2 star reviews on this site, you will not like this book for those very reasons. This book makes references, lots of references, to very specific corners of pop culture. If you get them, you'll likely love this book.
As someone who does love this book, I still have some problems. At a certain point, I just had to accept that this was a world in which everyone, male, female, black, white, old, young, straight, gay, somehow magically collected the same pop cultural touchstones and felt free to reference them ad nauseam. Sometimes it's clever, sometimes it's written beautifully, but at many points it simply doesn't ring true. I find it had to believe that a current teenager would know that Black Panther is from Wakanda, and that the blue area of the moon is where the Inhumans lived (or rather, did in the 80s and 90s), because that's the only spot on the moon that has oxygen. And the Watcher, but he's okay with having neighbors as long as they leave him alone.
See there? I just confused almost everyone reading this review. Now you know how the book will make you feel. If you're okay with that, or you actually understood what I was talking about, then by all means buy it. I think you'll enjoy it.
This novel is the story of two families living and working in a region of California on the borderland between yuppie Berkeley and down-and-out Oakland. The men, one white and Jewish and one black, run a "church of the vinyl," a used record store specializing in jazz and early rhythm and blues and hip-hop, a business being threatened by the proposed opening of a mega-store which will have its own used vinyl department. Their two wives are partners as well--nurse midwives--and their livelihood is being threatened by a looming lawsuit about a birthing gone wrong. On top of all this, the black couple, who are expecting their first baby, are suddenly surprised by the appearance of the man's teenage son from a long-ago romance, and the white couple's teenage son has fallen completely in love with the boy.
The large cast of memorable supporting characters includes a wheeling-and-dealing city councilman and funeral home director, an elderly organ-playing musical legend, a former action-movie actor and his long-legged former costar and current girlfriend, the "fifth-richest black man in America," an incredibly old female Chinese martial arts teacher, an overweight lawyer who defends whales and calls himself Moby, and an extremely verbal and talented parrot.
All these are written about in prose that is dense, lush, and full of metaphors and $2 words. Another writer using so many words when just a few could tell the same story would surely come off as pretentious. But somehow Chabon does not. His writing is so joyful and exuberant, and he is so obviously and unashamedly showing off that it works as part of his charm. When he includes a 12-page chapter which is all one sentence, he seems like nothing so much as a young teen boy showing off, saying, "Hey, look at me. I can ride my bike with no hands." Few writers in my reading experience have had the power to carry me along just with the words, regardless of plot. Michael Chabon can.
Top international reviews
An den jeweiligen Geschäftshorizonten ziehen düstere Wolken auf: In Brokeland Records' ohnehin prekärer Situation droht das endgültige Aus, weil in der Nachbarschaft ein Medien-Superstore geplant ist, und auch das Baby-Business bekommt scharfen Gegenwind, als eine Geburt unverschuldet aus dem Ruder läuft und Gwen dem Krankenhausarzt, der die Sache zu Ende bringen muss, dann nicht mit der Unterwürfigkeit gegenübertritt, die dieser von einer schwarzen Freiberuflerin offenbar erwartet.
Michael Chabon macht in seinem Roman eine Menge Fässer auf. Als wäre es mit dem beruflichen Stress nicht genug, wird Archie von zahlreichen weiteren Heimsuchungen geplagt: Ein Tunichgut von Vater, der sich wieder mal tief in den Schlamm geritten hat, ein plötzlich auf der Bildfläche erscheinender Sohn aus vorehelicher Zeit, den er Gwen aber verheimlicht hatte, der Tod eines väterlichen Freundes, den es stilvoll unter die Erde zu bringen gilt, und schließlich eine fatale Neigung, sein agiles Reproduktionsorgan auch außer Haus zum Einsatz zu bringen.
Der Autor schafft es mit viel Humor und Sprachwitz, seinen zahlreichen Haupt- und Nebendarstellern ordentlich Leben einzuhauchen. Irgendwie wachsen einem alle ans Herz, ihren teilweise himmelschreienden Schwächen zum Trotz. Und es macht Spaß zu lesen, wie die Davids den Goliaths die Stirn bieten, vor allem bei Gwens furiosem Kampf um ihre berufliche Reputation. Dagegen erschwert es das beträchtliche Personalaufkommen in Archies und Nats Umfeld, der etwas versponnenen Story um den Plattenladen zu folgen, die gleichzeitig Lob- und Abgesang auf das analoge Zeitalter ist. Da muss man sich seitenlang ganz schön durchbeißen, um dann am Ende aber doch das Buch zufrieden zuzuklappen.
Unfortunately, I found it very hard to engage with this book. It's difficult to put my finger on any one thing, and I think it was a combination of factors.
* Too many characters that played too small a part - The book is a confusion of characters, many of which are introduced simply to give colour to a single scene. Of course when that happens it's not clear at first and you have to wait a while to realise they're not making a reappearance. The CHOCHISE meeting about 3/4 of the way through the book is a prime example of this.
* Unclear characterisation forced me to re-evaluate the characters too often - As a reader I draw certain conclusions from the actions of characters. When these conclusions are contradicted later on it becomes confusing. Why did they act the way they did if that's the sort of person they are?
* Unclear character descriptions - This was a minor one, but it happened a couple of times, and it pulled me right out of the story. I'd built a picture of a character in my head, then some new piece of information (eg. hair colour, in the case of Cochise) is introduced relatively late in the book, forcing me to revise my mental image, and throwing the whole plot into confusion as I now have 2 character images for the same character - one of which has performed the actions in the first half of the book, and one which will hold from now on.
* Not enough story - At some point beautiful prose just isn't enough, and at the end of the day I didn't feel there was enough actual story to warrant a book of this length.
* Too many references - To everything! From Star Trek to Jazz. I doubt anybody got all the references in the book. It's OK that a book assumes specific knowledge on the part of the reader (eg. Hornby's High Fidelity ), but when you spread the subjects about which specialist knowledge is required this thin, you're left with a very small percentage of the population that will "get" everything. It just left me feeling like an outsider, rather than feeling involved in the story and the characters (and I got a reasonably high proportion of the references, I think. I wonder how folks that understood fewer felt?)
To sum up: not a bad book, just not his best work, and - for me - too much like hard work to read. I will put the time and effort in to read difficult books (eg. Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is well worth the effort - one of my favourite books!) but for this one it was too much work for too little reward. Sorry Mr. Chabon. I hope to see a return to form next time!
As a last remark: the story should be made into a Coen brothers or Tarantino movie... It just feels throughout the book that it may have been written with that intention.
I am such a fan that I eagerly awaited his first release in years.
I have literally battled through Telegraph Avenue which seems to be a well written love letter to music of a bygone era, and specifically targeting music lovers or readers wanting to reminisce. As a European I seriously believe anyone outside the US or Canada has not been seen as a potential reader.
This is not what I have come to love from Chabon's books. His imagination, characterisations, and storytelling are second to none. Pure escapism and addictive. Until now, my favourite author.
This is a completely different route. Slow, flitting between boring story lines which take so long to meld that I considered giving up on the book.
I do not write this happily, and have never reviewed before but if this is your introduction to Michael Chabon, PLEASE don't read Telegraph Avenue. Read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Yiddish Policemen's Union or Wonder Boys.
Chabon has loads to say about this, and modern relationships between parents and children, spouses, partners, neighborhoods, music (full of love for a particular type of jazz/funk). It is a tour de force. Not only is the prose on a sparklingly high level, the ambition of the novel sets it apart, even from his best previous work. It is not an easy read - despite its subject matter. There is a stunning 11 page chapter in the middle with a single full stop, that is breathless, funny and chock full of ambition. It reminded me of the similar length sentence in Moby Dick - The Whiteness of the Whale - when Melville descibes the great Moby Dick. This alone is worth the price of admission.
For Chabon, the black characters have an authenticity the white characters can only emulate and envy. His Jews (yes, the 'magic people' - the blacks and the Jews, as Updike called them both) are pale, skinny, nervous, and even gay (Julie Jaffe, the son) and altogether weak - except (of course) the powerful Aviva (Chabon's wife is called Aylet - no mistake who he's based her on). It is the authentic love of black music and culture that drives the action, and it's pale imitation - from the Jews or Gibson Goode, that provides a lot of the humour/tension/contrast.
None of the reviews I have read of this novel recongise its potency - it is his most powerful book of ideas. Everyone notices the sentences, the setting, the plot, etc. What is authentic, what is real in life, how can we know when we're losing it/finding it? This is the stuff of a great novel, and Chabon has created one, wrapped in a funny, exciting tale.
A wonder of a novel, from the author of Wonder Boys.