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Telegraph Avenue [Hardcover]

Michael Chabon
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 12.72 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Sep 2012

From Michael Chabon, the bestselling author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY – his first novel in five years is a lovingly painted pop-culture epic.

One street in Oakland, California. As the summer draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are hanging in there, co-regents of Brokeland Records. Their wives, Gwen and Aviva, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of legendary midwives.

When former star quarterback Gibson Goode announces plans to dump his latest Dogpile megastore on Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear the worst for their vulnerable little enterprise, as behind Goode’s proposal lurks a nefarious scheme.

While their husbands struggle to mount a defence, Aviva and Gwen find themselves caught up in a professional battle that tests their friendship. And into their already tangled lives comes Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged.

An intimate epic set to the laid-back beat of classic soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all of its own, TELEGRAPH AVENUE is Michael Chabon’s most dazzling book yet.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (11 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007288751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007288755
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seven novels - including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union - two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.

Product Description


‘Deeply wise and soulful … What you get is a big, serious, probing American novel, a page-turner that, like Chabon himself, seems to walk the line between high and low culture’ Attica Locke, Guardian

‘TELEGRAPH AVENUE achieves the blissed-out honey-coloured atmosphere of Cameron Crowe’s film ALMOST FAMOUS or Richard Linklater’s DAZED AND CONFUSED, but is deeper and more intelligent than either of those … It feels entirely relevant to the uncertainty of the present moment’ Sunday Times

‘TELEGRAPH AVENUE is a wonderful novel … Wonderfully engaging, exuberantly written … the world constructed here is one to lose yourself in … This is a novel that I found myself slowing down while reading, out of sheer pleasure. I put it off, and rationed it out, and just didn’t want it to end.’ Philip Hensher, Spectator

‘Chabon’s metaphors and similes can be wonderfully surreal… Telegraph Avenue is about many things: music, race relations, nostalgia, childbearing, husbands and wives, fathers and sons. Ultimately, however, it is a realist novel about the power of imaginary worlds to liberate or constrain’ Times Literary Supplement

‘A multi-generational, anatomy-of-a-community doorstopper with a plot like clockwork and sentences like toffee’ Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seven novels – including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union – two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This was a slog! 19 Nov 2012
By Mike N
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like Michael Chabon. I think he has a wonderful turn of phrase, and his writing as a rule is very evocative.

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.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riotous riff from a virtuoso. 20 Sep 2012
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anybody who has read The Yiddish Policemen's Union or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay will know that Michael Chabon is one of, if not the most, dazzling of writers. With a dense writing style all his own, you will need to concentrate, but you will be rewarded.

Archy (black) and Nat (Jewish) run a vintage vinyl shop in Oakland. The name of the shop is Brokeland , a name that sums up Chabon's lexical humour as well as the financial state of Archy and Nat's business. The shop is more than just a retail outlet; it's a hub where the local characters hang out, talk jazz and try to work out a plan to save the shop from imminent ruin. Gibson Goode is the fifth-richest black man in the US and he is planning to extend his empire by building his latest Dogpile megastore on nearby Telegraph Avenue. Archy and Nat's little enterprise, wobbly at best, is heading the way of so many individual, quirky, one-off shops - closure.

Meanwhile, Archy's wife Gwen and Nat's wife Aviva are highly experienced midwives who run their own birthing business. (Only in America!) When one of the births that they are attending gets complicated, Gwen runs foul of the hospital authorities and one doctor in particular. These two main plot-lines give Chabon the opportunity to explore the beleaguered battle-lines between big business and the establishment versus enterprise and individuality. Add into the mix two teenage boys. One is Nat's son Julie (Julius) and the other is Titus, the son that Archy has never acknowledged. The boys become best friends - and more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Telegraph Avenue 14 Oct 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Brokeland Records is one of those mythical, eccentric second-hand record stores where Nick Hornby and other devoted music aficionados shop. Located on a rundown section of Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Brokeland is owned by Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, long-time friends and band mates, and has a handful of loyal customers who visit regularly to hangout and occasionally to buy records. Business has been bad at Brokeland for a while but things are about to get a lot worse since planning permission has been granted for ex-NFL player and fifth richest black man in the USA Gibson Goode to open a Dogpile Thang (that being a music and entertainment megastore) just down the road.

It's not just business that's causing trouble for Archy and Nat either. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, run a midwifery business together and inadvertently become embroiled in a racially charged professional dispute when a home birth goes dangerously wrong. The chances of domestic peace are further shattered by the arrival of Archy's estranged father Luther Stallings, a former Blaxploitation star and martial arts champion, the revelation that Archy has a previously unacknowledged teenage son named Titus Joyner, and the relationship between Titus and Nat's son Julius. The impending arrival of Gibson Goode's Thang quickly becomes the least of Archy and Nat's worries.

Telegraph Avenue is an excellent, epic novel of real life and relationships. Michael Chabon often explores interpersonal relationships (particularly notions of fatherhood) and how they affect individuals as well as the wider world and he does so again in a variety of ways with Telegraph Avenue.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy!
Perhaps not as much a must if you aren't that keen on music (only in that there are many references to classic rare groove and jazz recordings) but still a wonderful read with the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Sammers
1.0 out of 5 stars The printed type face
Where did Amazon get this book, considering it was in the region of 800 pages, the type face was reduced, as was the size of the book. Which begged an impossibility to read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Philippa Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Book excellent, production the worst I've ever seen
Nothing against the content of the book which is excellent. The cover, size of text, general production quality of the book is horrendous. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Rhod Turner
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book by Michael Chabon, sadly unreadable!
Maybe it's just me but I was unable to read the paperback version of this novel that I bought from Amazon for a very simple reason - the print was TINY!! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Neeve
1.0 out of 5 stars Soooo disappointing
I have read all of Michael Chabon's books and have recommended several to friends safe in the knowledge that they would enjoy them. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Robd21
5.0 out of 5 stars "...he called what he played 'Brokeland Creole' "
There are so many reasons for me to dislike this book. It's relentlessly stuffed with references to American pop culture of the seventies - jazz, soul, funk - kung fu movies -... Read more
Published 8 months ago by FictionFan
1.0 out of 5 stars To page 50
I had the read the first few chapters several times to try and get into the story, and eventually realised it wasn't my lack of concentration, it was that the book is confusingly... Read more
Published 10 months ago by paulhutchings
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Chabon ever
Always read Chabon's books, always enjoyed them. Kavalier and Clay was my favourite - until I read this wonderful wonderful book. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kees Popinga
2.0 out of 5 stars Worst Chabon ever?
I'm usually a big Chabon fan, and I've read and loved everything he's written to date. I was so looking forward to Telegraph Avenue, but I'm half-way through this now and finding... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jasper
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant read
One of my favourite authors, well written as I expected it would be, Anyone not familiar with Michael Chabon should give him a try.
Published 14 months ago by eileen holroydE. Holroyd
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