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, between them, more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart - half tavern, half temple - stands Brokeland Records.
When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in the United States, 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 complication to the couples' already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of 15-year-old Julius Jaffe's life.
©2012 Michael Chabon (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
I got this as an audio book to listen to for one of my book clubs. Listened to about one hour, but couldn't get into it. I loved "Cavalier and Clay" and have a passing familiarity with the city of Oakland, but this book just seemed too forced. All the name-dropping of "famous" jazz musicians and their celebrated albums, most of which I had never heard of, left me out in the cold. Maybe if snippets of their work had been playing in the background . . . but without any clues, I had no idea who most of them were. Add to that the fact that not a single female character had appeared in the first hour, which was also a bit alienating. One of the main characters is a has-been kung fu star of "B" (or possibly "C") movies, another reference that just didn't grab me. I don't mind being exposed to new ideas through books, in fact I usually welcome it, but I just wasn't compelled to go over to my computer and start googling the names of the other kung-fu stars that were mentioned. Decided the book was too long and summer too short, so hit the "off" button and moved on to the next book in my pile.
I did think Clarke Peters was doing a good job of performing the book.
I love Michael Chabon's writing, and Telegraph Avenue merely fueled my opinion. Clarke Peters's top-notch delivery probably helped, but I frequently wished I had a paper copy of the text handy so I could share a particularly gorgeous excerpt with a friend, a student, or simply save it to reread and marvel over. The story is a daring and original amalgam of coming of age/revery/adventure/American classic/marriage hand book. . . Wow. The chapters told from the point of view of the 14 year old boys in which the moms are the enemies in their role-playing-samurai games are hysterical; even many of Chabon's throw away lines are remarkable for their original but effective writing. My one quibble, as with Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is that Chabon's detailed descriptive eye falls on everything--and I don't really want/need to know the ins and outs (unfortunately, that is often literally true) of the characters' sexual activities. Personally, I am a believer in keeping certain parts of life private; practically, this kind of painstaking description makes it that much harder to use his novels in a high school classroom, which I'd love to do.
So: highly, highly recommended. Terrific reading and a terrific novel, but the subject matter can definitely veer into the R rated at times.
I loved this book. Chabon is brilliant, and to have Clarke Peters (aka Lester from The Wire) read it to me was almost too good to be true. I live in the East Bay, so I loved the references to places big and small. I was also fascinated by Chabon's ability to write about things he hasn't completely experienced (i.e. childbirth) in ways that based on my own experience, rang true. This is a wonderful fictional piece of local history and a story woven around very colorful characters. I miss all of the folks already.
Narrator had soul, book has ink only.
multi-cultural plot lines woven between 3 generations.
When the zeppelin was un-leashed.
nostalgic for the 1970's
Author did a nice job of describing attitudes during the 1970's. I'll bet most of the nostalgic facts were accurate. The vintage cars seemed to be true to form.
i like to read. i like to listen.
The story itself.
The final scenes with Julius and Gwen in the hospital as she delivered her baby, and then when he left and went looking for Titus...I found Julius to become a great hero of this novel and really liked it.
I think the way he performed all the women and children sounded the same...and sometimes I that annoyed me. His encapsulation of the 70's vibe of Nat and Archy were on point, though.
No, but it was a good, solid story.
this book really took me by surprise. i listened to the first chapter and honestly thought -- i'm not going to make it through. it seemed...er...do i want to say pretentious? maybe? or...perhaps i'll just say, it seemed like it was going to be too much for me. just too much.
but something kept me listening. and i'm super glad i did.
i found the lives of archy and gwen, nat and aviva, julius and titus, so enthralling....i ached for more of each of their stories. yeh, i totally just said that.
it's funny, because i know that this book was intended to be about the two men -- archy and nat -- but i found myself more riveted with the other characters' stories. i mean, i loved those guys. archy was a particularly intriguing character. i wanted him to do the right things. i rooted for him to be the good guy.
but overall, gwen was my favorite character in this book. she was tender but serious. a no nonsense woman who was raised to never sit by and let her situation get out of control. yet, all the lives around her were out of control....and she struggled to take charge and be the woman she was intended to be. her sensibility was right on.
i also loved julius. he was such a sorry little boy. my heart went out to him every time he looked at or thought about titus. i think he was one of the true heroes of this novel. as i said, his scenes at the end of the book when gwen was in labor were truly special.
this is another book where all the ancillary characters were so strong and well developed. 'chan the man,' gibson goode, 'the king of bling', luther...every single one of them had depth and purpose. i enjoyed each and every story that intertwined with our main protagonists.
i think the most interesting part of this book was the underlying (and at times overlying) element of race that was the theme of the novel. the world views that are so different between nat and archy, aviva and gwen, titus and julius. the ability they have to coexist, as best friends, business partners, lovers...yet the inability to absolutely understand the other's point of view...never able to grasp the uniqueness of the other's race. and the wedges that formed between them all because of race.
Chabon has done it again. Can't get enough of his books. They feel real. If you've shopped for vinyl records in Oakland, you will know what I mean. Can't wait for his next one
Yiddish Policeman's Union
This is a rich slice of life from a time in the not-too-distant past. All the characters are drawn with humor and compassion, and each is flawed, sometimes tragically, but always with redemption in mind. However, Chabon's novels function better with an on-board ticking bomb, so that the reader feels like they've earned closure at the end of the novel. Chabon closed Yiddish Policeman's Union with the end of a way of life, and it felt like he tried to end TA the same way. But he just couldn't let go of these wonderful guys. As life, this makes a perfect narrative. As a novel I wanted a slightly firmer hand in the last chapters. This audio performance is among my all-time favorites, and TA itself is the best novel of the year. Among the best from this great author.
Teach art history at a local college.
The use of language in "Telegraph Avenue" is so rich and seductive that I really didn't want the book to end. Listening to the reader was pure joy. The language conveyed not only the bones of the story, but also varied according to each personality. In addition, the language revealed the ages of the protagonists by being apropos to each person.Mr. Chabon must have done a mountain of research or be an aficionado of vinyl himself. He reveals an encyclopedic familiarity both with jazz of the fifties to the seventies, but also of contemporary music. Listening to stories is one of my all-time favorite activities. The excellent reader sustained the voices of the four pairs of protagonists.
There are passages that reminded me of Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu," in the minutia of details about the music; of Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" in its panoply of characters and of Joyce's "Ulysses" in the sweep of time.
This question--"what scene was your favorite" is like asking whether you prefer dark chocolate with or without nuts--because there were so many indelible moments. Here are two: the executor's daughter cleaning out Cochise Jones' apartment and releases his parrot, or the undertaker's nephews chatter while "tailing" Titus and Julie.
A tag line for a film might be "The Karma of Vinyl."
I don't have any real complaint about the performance
It was just a jumble.
I really wanted to enjoy this book. I tried several times restarting it because I always felt like I was missing something. In the end, I didn't even finish the book.
The plot was dull.
I could not get into it at all, and I went to college in the 70's--it was just dull.
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