BookPeople Review: TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon

Telegraph Avenueby Michael Chabon
Reviewed by Spencer

Maybe it’s the hard-hitting, fierce prose that draws the reader along Telegraph Avenue, or possibly the seemingly endless fount of vinyl knowledge –sure to titillate any aficionado of records- that keeps the reader hooked well into the ante meridian hours; or could it be the names of the characters who exist in an all-too-familiar world, those names like Brokeland Records (the vinyl record store struggling to keep its doors open) and Brokeland’s co-owner Archy Stallings (who abjectly forestalls the inevitable, not only with regards to Brokeland), or Gibson Goode (Whose nefarious corporate chain could mean the death of Brokeland), or fourteen-year-old Titus Joyner (who simultaneously rents and connects those around him) and the confused sexual tension between Titus and Julie Jaffe (Julie, who is a boy the same age as Titus), or Irene Jew (the Chinese kung fu master), or the amazingly developed characters Gwen and Aviva, midwives who struggle to retain respect for their profession in the face of big-hospital ostracism; maybe it was the bigger picture of the book, the struggle between small businesses –with their community of regulars who have become family to owners and town alike- and the encroaching societal degradation manifested in the form of homogenized corporate retail establishments, with their offer of aggregate pecuniary reward in exchange for the heart and soul of Main Street USA; or possibly it’s Part III of the book, which in its entirety consists of only one free-flowing, monumental eleven-page sentence; or maybe it’s all of these things combined, but Michael Chabon (pronounced, in his words, “Shea as in Shea Stadium, Bon as in Bon Jovi”) has done marvelously what so many writers only hope to do: he has written a novel filled with places and characters -no matter how disparate or familiar- with whom we cannot help but empathize, and ultimately love.

Copies of Telegraph Avenue are now available in-store and via www.bookpeople.com. We have signed first editions available, while supplies last.

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