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Telegraph Avenue: A Novel | [Michael Chabon]

Telegraph Avenue: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (294 )
5 star
 (79)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.5 (243 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Story
4.0 (242 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (18)
Performance
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  •  
    J. El Cerrito, CA, United States 02-05-13
    J. El Cerrito, CA, United States 02-05-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DR Alexandria, VA, United States 02-01-13
    DR Alexandria, VA, United States 02-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    Story
    "Too Many Words; There You Have It!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I don't think anything could have redeemed this story for me.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Chabon again?

    Probably not


    What didn’t you like about Clarke Peters’s performance?

    It was too difficult for me to distinguish different characters.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration


    Any additional comments?

    Chabon seems so in love with his own words. I completely lost the train of thought by his wordy interludes. I didn't care about any of the characters, and I just wanted the book to end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mike RIVERTON, WY, United States 12-17-12
    mike RIVERTON, WY, United States 12-17-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mike Miller's review"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Telegraph Avenue to be better than the print version?

    Narrator had soul, book has ink only.


    What did you like best about this story?

    multi-cultural plot lines woven between 3 generations.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When the zeppelin was un-leashed.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    nostalgic for the 1970's


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 12-07-12
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 12-07-12 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    92
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    "Stay with it. Interesting Story Race & Family"
    What made the experience of listening to Telegraph Avenue the most enjoyable?

    The story itself.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Telegraph Avenue?

    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.


    What aspect of Clarke Peters’s performance would you have changed?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, but it was a good, solid story.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Chico, CA, United States 11-20-12
    Peter Chico, CA, United States 11-20-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Pulitzer?"

    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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kassandra Kelly Oregon City, OR USA 11-19-12
    Kassandra Kelly Oregon City, OR USA 11-19-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful novel, great audio experience"
    What other book might you compare Telegraph Avenue to and why?

    Yiddish Policeman's Union


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet Boca Raton, FL, United States 10-08-12
    Harriet Boca Raton, FL, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2011

    Teach art history at a local college.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Very-Well-Written Book by Mr. Chabon"
    What did you love best about Telegraph Avenue?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Telegraph Avenue to and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A tag line for a film might be "The Karma of Vinyl."


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    terry Sumner, TX, United States 11-19-12
    terry Sumner, TX, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    7
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    "Hard book to follow, disjointed"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    not sure


    Has Telegraph Avenue turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    How could the performance have been better?

    I don't have any real complaint about the performance


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Telegraph Avenue?

    It was just a jumble.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 11-16-12
    Rhonda Morrison Worcester, MA 11-16-12 Member Since 2012

    Film Lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "Boring, boring, boring."
    What disappointed you about Telegraph Avenue?

    The plot was dull.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Chabon’s story?

    I could not get into it at all, and I went to college in the 70's--it was just dull.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Seattle, WA, United States 11-02-12
    Christine Seattle, WA, United States 11-02-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Impossibly dull!"

    Sorry to say I had to abandon this book after 4 chapters. Excruciatingly dull male characters that I cared not a whit for, although actually wished something would happen to change my mind. But no. Chabon has a decent writing style and some memorable turns of phrase. Just not my taste at all, and life is too short to keep reading/listening to something so deeply dull. Perhaps I was hoping for a more Armistead Maupin tale of San Francisco? The narrator's kind of upbeat jazzy voice was ok. Maybe I'll hear him read something more literary and interesting, so I can judge him more fairly.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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