Karen's Reviews > Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
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Oct 29, 2012

it was ok

I had such a mixed experience reading this book. The first quarter of the book was good, though very confusing. (It definitely seems that Chabon purposely tries to be confusing, which is annoying.) The next half was mesmerizing -- I loved the characters and the story, and some of the sentences were so profound and interesting that I had to stop and read them numerous times. But I think the book seriously lost its way. By the end, I hated all of the characters, thought the plot made no sense, and thought the dialogue was contrived. I don't think I could bear one more sentence without definite articles. The dialogue definitely had the feel of a white author attempting to write African-American dialogue. But my main criticism is hard to explain: it's that the emotional impact of the book, which peaked toward the middle of the book, dissolved into satire (or something like it), so that I didn't care about the characters at the end of the book -- not any of them. The book seemed to be tackling too much at once -- I think everything needed simplifying -- the plot, the number of characters, the political context, the individual sentences. If Chabon had kept the book more simple, he could have focused on truly developing his main characters and thus sustaining the emotional connection with the reader.
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Lynn wow, i agree completely. you really captured my feelings for this book. i am a huge chabon fan, have loved every one of his novels, but could not love this one. the mix of his black-jive dialect with obscure GRE vocab was confusing. but in the end, it was the characters who let me down. none of them were compelling. nice review!


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