- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 10, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006149335X
- ISBN-13: 978-0061493355
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 457 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Telegraph Avenue: A Novel Paperback – September 10, 2013
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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)
“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.” (Cathleen Schine, New York Review of Books)
“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.” (John Freeman, Boston Globe)
“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.” (Jess Walter, San Francisco Chronicle)
“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))
“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.” (Robin Micheli, People (4 out of 4 stars))
“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)
“Witty and compassionate and full of more linguistic derring-do than any other writer in American could carry off.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
“An exhilarating, bighearted novel.” (O magazine)
“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.” (Benjamin Percy, Esquire)
From the Back Cover
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 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 complications 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.
Top customer reviews
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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.
I bought this because I lived in the Bay Area and spent a lot of time on and around Telegraph Ave. in the 60s and early 70s. Luckily, I did not pay full price.
Loved the Yiddish Policeman's Union. Don't love this.