Lisa's Reviews > Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
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's review
Jul 11, 2012

liked it
Read in July, 2012

I hadn't read Chabon since Mysteries of Pittsburgh despite all the hoopla, probably because I just wasn't attracted by their plotlines. But this one--two couples, one black and one white, friends and partners in a used record store (men) and a midwife practice (women) in gentrifying (or so it is rumored) Oakland of the 1980s, plus a free early galley, did. But...I dunno.... I admired his literary pyrotechnics and unbounded creativity in evoking the setting and atmosphere, and incantatory collages of cultural details....but never really felt like the characters were more than props moving around this vivid set. Sometimes their reactions to events or feelings 'in medias res' were well-drawn, but these little set pieces never really wove together into 3-D characters...and in particular, the female protagonists, whose inner lives were thinly imagined relative to those of their husbands and male children. Much more energy seemed to go into impressive accumulations of cultural detail-- the literary equivalent of 'collecting' which is what these male characters seem so into: comic books, sci-fi, blaxpoitation movies, music (studio, date, recording, producer, players). It's all kind of....for boyz.
That said, it was entertaining and had a couple moving moments and you sure do have to admire his ability to riff and conjure sentences.
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Comments (showing 1-4)

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Amanda This is a great review. I loved the book, and can't help being dazzled by his wordsmithing and his craft, but I'm always irked by his wooden portrayals of women, and wished the whole Luther/Valetta storyline hadn't ended up as not much more than a tricksy MacGuffin.

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I don't get how you guys have already read this. It isn't out yet.

Amanda Advanced reading copy.

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