Dan's Reviews > Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 09, 2012

liked it

I give this 3.5 stars out of 5 - liked it a lot but didn't love it. The likes included three truly amazing passages: protagonist Archy Stallings' funeral paean to his surrogate father, musician Cochise Jones; a 12-page sentence chronicling the flight of Cochise's parrot Fifty-Eight over the scenes of "our story so far" (the ultimate example of Chabon's show-off side, but well worth the air time); and the vivid subjective description of Archy's wife Gwen in labor. Archy and Gwen are wonderful, fully realized characters, though Archy owes a bit too much to Antoine Batiste of Treme. Some of the other characters, and much of the plot, feel a bit too much like commedia dell'arte - "types" and situations that have to carry too much baggage representing aspects of the Telegraph Avenue community. In the end, though, Chabon's love of that community and his characters conquers all. I'd certainly recommend this warm novel to anyone who knows and loves the East Bay in all its turmoil, quirkiness, and beautiful diversity.

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