Book Review: Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

October 2, 2012
Article first published as Book Review: Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon on Blogcritics.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon is a literary fiction book in which the author jams so much in it’s a wonder the novel is not twice the size. Mr. Chabon is a Pulitzer prize winning author for his 2001 book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book—use the Raf­fle­copter form at the end of the post to enter.

Book Review: Telegraph Avenue by Michael ChabonMy rating for Telegraph Avenue4
Buy this book in paper or electronic format*
More Books by Michael Chabon*

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (website | Facebook) is a strange book, if Quentin Tarantino wrote a book I’d imagined it would be something like this – better yet, if you had to read a Quentin Tarantino movie, it would be exactly like this. A schizophrenic experience which will leave you dazed and somewhat confused until things will clear up a few pages down – only for the cycle to be repeated again and again.

The strangeness doesn’t come from the story, which is quite simple, but from the artful storytelling. There are many pop-culture references (including many to Tarantino himself), music, books, movies, TV shows and some made up references which only exist within the realm of the book.
While I do enjoy pop-culture references in my reading, the sheer amount made the book difficult to read, albeit enjoyable in its own unique way. I’m usually pretty good about estimating how long a book would take me to read, this one took twice as long and could have easily been more than that.

So keep your favorite Internet search engine close by – you’ll need it.

That being said, the book is riddled pop-culture and music. Many fine authors can write about pop-culture, but Chabon is the only one who can write music. Not writing “about” music, but writing music. When Chabon writes about a music passage, I could almost hear it in my head even though I had no idea what he was referring to, whether it was or wasn’t what I heard doesn’t matter – I heard it.

This book is a college professor’s dream. You can create a whole course around it with ease. The book sometimes goes into so many details it’s frustrating, but the observations about our culture and American lifestyles are encouraging and interesting. Of course, it could all be a smoke screen as Chabon says himself:

“some Jewish dude trying to think like an ass-kicking soul sister”.

I felt the book was too long (some of the descriptions seem to go on forever), yet despite a need for an editor, Chabon has managed to produce another good book with excellent prose. I thought that the 12 page sentence was a literary marvel which only few will try and even fewer can pull off successfully.

This is the perfect book to be an eBook, “e” as in enhanced, it almost seems like Chabon wrote it with a mind to create a multimedia experience one would never forget. While I enjoyed reading this novel, it was hard, the prose, the references, the music and story all jumbled in my head – so take your time and enjoy the ride.

Nat Jaffe and Archy Stallings are the owners of Brokeland Records, one of the few bastions of vinyl record stores left in Oakland, CA circa 2004. In comes Gibson Goode, ex-NFL star, multi-millionaire and entrepreneur who wants to open his Dogpile megastore in the area. The megastore will force Brokeland Records, who are struggling as it is, to close.

Nat’s wife, Aviva, and Archy’s wife, Gwen, are having their own struggles – they are midwives who have delivered thousands of babies until one delivery goes wrong and quickly turns ugly.

Buy this book in paper or electronic format*
More Books by Michael Chabon*


  • Give­away ends: October 09, 2012

  • US/Canada Ship­ping Addresses Only

  • No PO Boxes

  • Win­ners will have 24 hours to write back with their address, oth­er­wise an alter­nate win­ner will be picked

Congratulations: Name as email

TLC Book Tour for Telegraph Avenueby Michael Chabon:

Zohar — Man of la Book
I got this book for free from TLC Book Tours
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read Telegraph Avenue? If so link up your review below:

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  • Rebecca @ Love at First BookOctober 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I have read other Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures. . .) and this is on my TBR list!

  • John J.October 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this more than I did. Chabon has a head for culture. His themes don’t always speak well to me, but there’s no denying that he has writing talent and can pull of some crazy stuff (such as that 12-page sentence, which feels almost record-breaking in its length) that other writers could never even bother to attempt. 🙂

    • Zohar - Man of la BookOctober 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      A “head for culture” Chabon certainly has. I agree, the 12 page sentence was crazy – but it worked.

  • nancyoOctober 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I like your comment about a multimedia experience. I actually ended up giving this book 3.5 stars on goodreads because I just wasn’t wowed by the prose overflow that gushed throughout the novel. But that 12-page sentence…that was awesome.

  • Julie RupertOctober 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Lori L (she treads softly)October 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I loved the 12 page sentence – but, honestly, I love the care and attention Chabon gives ALL of his sentences.

  • CarlOctober 2, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks for the great review. I haven’t yet read any of Mr. Chabon’s work, but I should. Now’s my chance.
    My email is : carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  • LisaOctober 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I am racing like hell trying to finish this and you are so right about how long it takes to read! So much to look up, so slow going. I finally had to start notes about each character because I was getting so confused about who was who in relationship and time. Chabon is brilliant but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get to the end and still prefer The Amazing Adventures and Yiddish Policemen.

  • Marlene VOctober 5, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Thanks for the chance to win

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book ToursOctober 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Trying to read a Quentin Tarantino movie would be QUITE an experience!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  • Freda MansOctober 8, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I love the description of reading a Tarantino movie…. that highly appealed to me since I like his odd sense.

  • Wayne LecoyOctober 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Please Enter Me In Your Book Giveaway
    It Would Be Great To Win A Copy
    Of Telegraph Avenue By Michael Chabon.
    Thank You For Having This Giveaway!!!!!!!!!

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