Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon

Nat and Archy are best friends and proprietors of  a record story in the an area known as Brokeland, where Oakland and Berkley meet.  When an ex-NFL star announces plans to open a mega store nearby, the friends begin to worry that it will ruin their business.  At the same time, their wives are navigating rough waters with their midwife practice.  Add to that the fact that Nat's son Julie is in love with Archy's long lost lovechild, Titus, and you see that lives intersect in ways you never considered.

I have long been a fan of Michael Chabon, and I have to say, this is pretty representative of his work.  His style can be a little too long winded and florid for some readers, but his style is one of the things I like best about his work.  He uses very indirect language and really makes the reader work for the story, and I like that.  I would not like to read books like that all the time, but this made for a welcome change from the typical, trite, predictable contemporary novels.

The author also creates some very vivid characters, with their own distinct story arcs.  One of my favorite characters in the book is Gwen, Archy's pregnant wife.  She sort of gets a raw deal for a lot of the book, but she has tremendous heart, and I really respect her as a character.  I also thought the dynamic between the two sons was interesting, complex, and brave.  There are a lot of issues touched upon in this book: urban life, racism, misogyny, gentrification of neighborhoods, nostalgia.  This book is a real cornucopia of themes, leading to a rich story.

This is the kind of book that you need to read more than once to fully grasp it.  I have re-read several of Chabons books, several times each, and every time I find something new.  I cannot wait to see what I find when I re-read this one.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

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