Ann's Reviews > Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
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's review
Oct 07, 12

bookshelves: novel, kindle
Read in October, 2012

I really enjoyed this book, partly for all the fun local references (it is rather insistently local), but mostly because MC is a really wonderful writer. This book is full of beautiful descriptions, both succinct and lengthy, and a cast of likeable, well-drawn characters. His affection for his characters, warts and all, is one the the things I like most about Chabon's books.

I don't really know anything about jazz, so there were layers of allusions I'm sure I missed, but I didn't find the music references distracting either. I do wonder if all the extremely local detail would bother readers who are not from around here (everything from Vik's Chaat sporks to the Merritt bakery to the AC Transit #51 bus gets a mention).

I also appreciated how adept he was with the issue of race -- I'm very curious to see how it is received by non-white readers. Most of the characters are generally aware of, and don't ignore, their white privilege, and the black characters often call them on it when necessary, but without being overly preachy or self-conscious (except in the way awareness of privilege does make on self-conscious). Also (and this was quite funny!) there are plenty of digs at a certain white "Berkeleytude" or wanne-be hipness. One of the funniest lines was: "Julie wanted to die of his own whiteness, to be drowned in the tide of his embarrassment on behalf of all uncool white people everywhere..." (Julian, aka Julie, is the 14-year-old gay son of one of the main characters.)

All in all, a very enjoyable book, and I was reminded that I never did get around to reading the Yiddish Policeman's Union...
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