Friday, January 24, 2014

Telegraph Avenue

by Michael Chabon

Let me begin by stating that I loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. But I did not love Telegraph Avenue.

There is so much (too much) crammed into this novel. The characters and plots include the following:

• Archy & Nat: friends and owners of Brokeland Records,
• Gwen & Aviva: wives of Archy & Nat, friends, and midwives/business associates,
• Titus & Julie (Julius): sons of Archy & Nat, new friends,
• Luther: Archy’s kooky father and former star of Blaxploitation films,

and the list goes on!

At its heart, Telegraph Avenue is about the almost certain demise of Brokeland Records, due to a development scheme. But equally important are the business of midwifery, and the fate of Gwen and Aviva’s business. And then there is the issue of Titus and his arrival on the scene, as well as Julie’s feelings for Titus.

Friendship, family, and nostalgia are the heart and soul of Chabon’s latest offering, but there is just too much of it. There are too many relationships and far too much yearning for the past. There is too much to read, and with so many superfluous details, it is really hard to even recommend this novel.

I loved the sections about Gwen and Aviva and their midwifery, but the rest? I was not impressed. Chabon really needs to edit himself.


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