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Telegraph Avenue Paperback – 25 Apr 2013

3.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000728876X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007288762
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘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

‘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

‘An amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story … Mr. Chabon can write about just about anything … with a real, lived-in sense of empathy and passion.’ Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

‘Like a favourite old jazz LP, its richly pleasurable form beginning to end.’ Independent

‘A sprawling family drama with a soundtrack’ The Times

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

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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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