Joseph's Reviews > Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
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's review
Nov 14, 2012

liked it

Ambitious and yet somehow lightweight, *Telegraph Avenue* seeks to tackle issues of race and interracial friendship in the melting pot of the modern American city. Though occasionally trenchant and often hilarious, the book suffers from a superfluity of characters, and its attempt to take six different people seriously as protagonists results in a certain diffusion of energy that sometimes makes it hard to follow. (I think this is actually reflected in the fact that these six are, in fact, narrowed to one couple -- Archy and Gwen, middle-class black folks trying to find a place for themselves in a society that wants to pretend it is post-racial -- by the end of the novel.) Though more ambitious in theme than any book he's written since *The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay*, it ends up being less satisfying than *The Yiddish Policemen's Union*, Chabon's last work that was not purposefully minor.

It does do an interesting thing, however: taking place in the recent past (2004), it plays a little with our understanding of American socioeconomic events of the 21st century to imply rough trails ahead for characters who get ostensibly happy endings. I'm sure this isn't the first book ever to take this tack, but it's the only one I can remember right now.

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