Telegraph Avenue Paperback – 25 Apr 2013
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‘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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not my cup of tea, couldn't get through the first 50 pagesPublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
As a white man living in Derbyshire, England, I got the following out of reading this book:
- A good, immersive idea of what modern suburban life in a regular American city is... Read more
Brilliant. Prior knowledge of classic Jazz music, Tarantino movies and Kung-fu movies a definite advantage. For me, with the first two of those three, this was a brilliant read. Read morePublished 23 months ago by D
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 morePublished on 31 Dec. 2013 by J. Sammers
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 morePublished on 6 Dec. 2013 by Philippa Wilson
Nothing against the content of the book which is excellent. The cover, size of text, general production quality of the book is horrendous. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2013 by Rhod Turner
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 morePublished on 19 Sept. 2013 by Neeve
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 morePublished on 9 Aug. 2013 by Robd21
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 morePublished on 7 Aug. 2013 by FictionFan