Gary ’s review of Telegraph Avenue > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim I saw this in the bookstore just the other day. I'm glad that someone whose taste I trust has reviewed it positively!


message 2: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm It is really amazing. The writing is sublime. The middle paragraph consists of one sentence. He has an amazing ear for dialogue and an encyclopedic knowledge of Jazz and popular culture. I'm sure I missed many allusions. I hope you enjoy it. I feel like reading it again!


message 3: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I started this and put it down. I guess I'll have to pick it up again!


message 4: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Kim,

I thought I wrote chapter. I wonder if the auto-spell changed it to paragraph. Or maybe I'm losing my mind (like Sally in Follies!)


message 5: by Kim (new)

Kim Gary wrote: "Kim,

I thought I wrote chapter. I wonder if the auto-spell changed it to paragraph. Or maybe I'm losing my mind (like Sally in Follies!)"


I didn't think it was that short a book!


message 6: by Betsy (new)

Betsy McTiernan Sounds great. It's on the list.


message 7: by Nat (new)

Nat Great review. I read some more of them on Amazon, and all the negative reviews were written by people who can't spell one-syllable words. All the positive reviews were well expressed. It's on my list to at least read the free Kindle sample and evaluate from there.


message 8: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Thanks. It is written in a highly stylized prose which might be off-putting. I've only used the sampling feature on my Kindle a few times but it seems like a good way to keep on top of an ever-expanding list of books to read.


message 9: by Nat (new)

Nat Yes, I used to keep every suggestion in a folder of free samples, but the problem is that if you encounter a problem with your Kindle you lose all of them. So now I'm just keeping a list on computer and will download when I am ready to try each one.


message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I started this again and I'm glad I did. I keep on underlining Chabon's descriptions. I can't stop . For example:"the man piling up rocks like lines in one of his boring poems," or "...his eagerness to get quit of Chandler Flowers III and his cup of clabbered ambition." These are truly vivid pictures ...imaginative but accurate . I'm glad that I read your review and tried again,


message 11: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Always glad when we can agree on books. This one is really special.


message 12: by Jeffrey (last edited May 08, 2013 01:16PM) (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Chabon is a great writer and a pretty decent softball player. When I lived in San Francisco he was on one of the teams we played against. He never robbed me of a hit so I don't carry any resentments over to my reading of his work. :-)


message 13: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm I'm glad that your don't hold grudges. This one is under appreciated in my opinion.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch I would buy and read anything by Chabon, but I haven't read anything before your review that gave me such a good impression of what it was like and that I absolutely have to read it asap.


message 15: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm It is pretty good stuff. Archie and Gwen are wonderful characters and his prose is powerful and poetic. I liked it as much as.The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and much more than that Yiddish cop thing.


message 16: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope I should read this given that I have been very familiar with this avenue. I don't know Chabon. I am also curious of the writing style as you describe it, Gary.


message 17: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Many readers were put off by his verbal perspicacity; I was enchanted. He has one sentence that extends for pages describing an escaped parrot's flight over the city. One reviewer compared it to Ulysses.


message 18: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Read my review please. This is NOT about the Bay Area or about anything accurate in relation to growing up there as I did. Great photo though.


message 19: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Berkeley is NOT a minor city by the way. Not even close if the Periodic Table of Elements is anything to be considered as well as some of the greatest scholars and cultural movements of the past 100 years are anything to go by!


message 20: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm I thought the novel was set in Oakland, which I know is a major port city in the Bay Area. Wikipedia ranks it as the eighth largest city in CA. I'm from NY. The eighth largest city here is Mount Vernon-not exactly a household word. I'm sorry you found the book so awful. I'm surprised that you bothered finishing it and took the time to write such a lengthy review. I'm happy that you liked my picture.


message 21: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Super, I read your review. I didn't really get it. It's fine that you lived in CA and had a different experience, but the book isn't about you.


message 22: by Gary (last edited Jul 28, 2013 06:11AM) (new)

Gary  the Bookworm On the setting's significance:

The novel’s title is a sly misdirection and perhaps, as such, a sort of Socratic lesson in the practice of reading it. For anyone with passing knowledge of the Bay Area, “Telegraph Avenue” signifies “Cal Berkeley.” It’s the famous street that ends at Cal’s Sather Gate, where all that stuff happened in the sixties, and, at this historic terminus of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, “Telegraph Avenue” spends precisely zero time. Chabon’s stretch of Telegraph is 2.4 miles to the south, about a mile inside the Oakland line, where it anchors a scruffy neighborhood known as Lower Temescal.

The NewYorker, Sept 25, 2012


message 23: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Gary wrote: "I thought the novel was set in Oakland, which I know is a major port city in the Bay Area. Wikipedia ranks it as the eighth largest city in CA. I'm from NY. The eighth largest city here is Mount Ve..."

The photo you have up is Berkeley, not Oakland.


message 24: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Suzanne wrote: "Super, I read your review. I didn't really get it. It's fine that you lived in CA and had a different experience, but the book isn't about you."

That's quite a catty response as never so much as insinuated the book was about me. The book is about where I grew up and it is filled with tired racial stereotypes, falsehoods, incorrect cultural references and even locations. Chabon is extremely talented he just is out of his element with TA.


message 25: by Gary (last edited Jul 28, 2013 06:35AM) (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Super wrote: "Gary wrote: "I thought the novel was set in Oakland, which I know is a major port city in the Bay Area. Wikipedia ranks it as the eighth largest city in CA. I'm from NY. The eighth largest city her..."

Thanks for the tip. Photobucket misdirected me. Or more likely, I wasn't specific enogh. I think it evokes the right mood but I'll search for something more accurate.


message 26: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Gary wrote: "On the setting's significance:

The novel’s title is a sly misdirection and perhaps, as such, a sort of Socratic lesson in the practice of reading it. For anyone with passing knowledge of the Bay A..."
Perhaps you should look away from the mainstream East coast media to get the real story about the west coast. I like your review but large parts of it feel as if you formed your opinion based solely on reading reviews and not the book. There was no collective responsibility in the book either. At the close they lease a smaller shop to serve as a repository their stock and Cochise Jones' estate and sell it online which is not about community but self preservation.


message 27: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I'm sorry if you 're offended. I have never lived in CA. I have worked with inner city kids for almost 35 years. The language Chabon used sounded familiar. The characters were imaginative and colorful. I can't fact check you on cultural references. For me, this was a lovely piece of jazz.


message 29: by Super (last edited Jul 28, 2013 03:14PM) (new)

Super Amanda Thanks Suzanne. Part of the misstep on Chabon's part is that Telegraph is not the inner city-even the area of the city that is in Oakland. It was odd to see educated people like Gwen and Archie acting "street" and unable to make sound, healthy decisions (why would a nearly due pregnant woman abandon her home and cheating husband to sleep in a Kung Fu studio?) whereas the white couple, Nate and his wife were very grounded and confident. Archy is intimidated into taking a ride in the Zeppelin while Nate actually lets it go in a crazy act of drunk courage. There were just too many racial stereotypes. Nate stood up to authority while Arcy wavered. Gwen went nuts while Aviva stayed balanced. Julie wanted love while Titus just wanted sex and was never able to express any emotion. Chabon has the right to create whatever he wants I'm just shocked that people find accuracy and realism in the book, it reads like a parody.


message 30: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Gary wrote: "From the West Coast:

http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.ph..."
Thanks for that review Gary. There were (and still are) few to no chain stores on Telegraph in either era. Something to consider about the reviewer is the kistch and very naive to believe that the aftermath ('broken pieces')of a death or loss of community business in a lower income area is somehow liberating and "very beautiful indeed" for the reader to enjoy. Once again, if this was not lauded social lit it would be a different case. Chabon is an amazing writer but in this book he's all style and no substance.


message 31: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Well I enjoyed our discussion but I'm sticking with 4 stars for the reasons stated in my review. I usually don't read professional reviews until after I've read something and this was no exception, but I agreed with much of what was said in the two reviews I cited.


message 32: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope Well, thank you everyone.. a fascinating discussion.

And yes, Gary, that new picture is better if this is not about Berkeley (I have not read the book, but considering it).


message 33: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I have to admit that I've never finished a one star book.


message 34: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Kalliope wrote: "Well, thank you everyone.. a fascinating discussion.

And yes, Gary, that new picture is better if this is not about Berkeley (I have not read the book, but considering it)."


Thank you Kalliope: I do love my pictures and I want them to be accurate. I think the review in the LA Review of Books, cited above, is a fair representation. I think this goes well with Zadie Smith's NW. The setting in both novels is important.


message 35: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Suzanne wrote: "I have to admit that I've never finished a one star book."

I agree with that. If I didn't abandon some books I wouldn't have any time for Jane Austen re-reads. ;-)


message 36: by Super (last edited Jul 28, 2013 03:13PM) (new)

Super Amanda Gary wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Well, thank you everyone.. a fascinating discussion.

And yes, Gary, that new picture is better if this is not about Berkeley (I have not read the book, but considering it)."

Than..."
Good point Gary. The difference is Zadie Smith IS from London and Chabon is NOT from the Bay Area. The photo you have up is almost at the end of Telegraph by Oakland City Center where none of the action takes of the book takes place. Once again, nice picture and thanks for posting.


message 37: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Suzanne wrote: "I have to admit that I've never finished a one star book." I gave the book a chance. It had some great qualities.


message 38: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne That's why I would not give it a 1. Books which are written without poetry, without good qualities, but are literate would probably get 2 stars. If the book has some great writing, but I just don't like the story or I don't find it interesting, 3 stars. I guess I have different criteria than you do.


message 39: by Super (new)

Super Amanda For me it is down to the Good Reads guide. 'it was ok' is two stars while one star is 'I did not like it'.


message 40: by guiltlessreader (new)

guiltlessreader Thanks for the photos :) Nice little bit of context!


message 41: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm guiltlessreader wrote: "Thanks for the photos :) Nice little bit of context!"

Thanks. I think it's important to realize that Telegraph Ave runs through many different neighborhoods before ending up in Berkeley. I didn't realize the distinction, or its significance to the story, until somebody commented on another picture that I deleted. This collage is accurate (I hope!)


message 42: by Super (last edited Sep 19, 2013 08:12AM) (new)

Super Amanda Hi Gary, the collage by Joshaua M Moore is one small section of Telegraph above which is the Oakland side. There are five photos plus a dozen more relating to Telegraph Avenue and the old school Bay Area here:

http://superamanda.blogspot.com/2013/...

Midwifery is not a vital , huge subculture in the Bay Area as well. Chabon's book is definitely fiction in that regard among many other things.


message 43: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Thanks for the pics, Super. Your blog is very interesting. Congrats on the anniversary! I have no idea if midwifery is important in the Bay Area, but it is important in this novel. It was very important to us 31 years ago when my daughter was born, but I don't think it mattered much to the rest of NYC. ;-)


message 44: by Super (new)

Super Amanda Yes good point and thanks so much. :) Amazing that mid-wifery is still is mostly underground in major cities though in suburbs it is an active community.


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