[A]n amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story that addresses [Chabon's] perennial themes—about fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and the consolations of art—while reaching outward to explore the relationship between time past and time present, the weight (or lightness, as the case may be) of history, and the possibility of redemption and forgiveness…Mr. Chabon can write about just about anything…And write about it not as an author regurgitating copious amounts of research, but with a real, lived-in sense of empathy and passion…for the most part he does such a graceful job of ventriloquism with his characters that the reader forgets they are fictional creations. [Chabon's] people become so real to us, their problems so palpably netted in the author's buoyant, expressionistic prose, that the novel gradually becomes a genuinely immersive experience—something increasingly rare in our ADD age.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
A genuinely moving story about race and class, parenting and marriage…Chabon is inarguably one of the greatest prose stylists of all time, powering out sentences that are the equivalent of executing a triple back flip on a bucking bull while juggling chain saws and making love to three women.
Chabon’s hugely likable characters all face crises of existential magnitude, rendered in an Electra Glide flow of Zen sentences and zinging metaphors that make us wish the needle would never arrive at the final groove.
A beautiful, prismatic maximalism of description and tone, a sly meditation on appropriation as the real engine of integration, and an excellent rationale for twelve-page sentences.
Virtuosity” is the word most commonly associated with Chabon, and if Telegraph Avenue, the latest from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, is at first glance less conceptual than its predecessors, the sentences are no less remarkable. Set during the Bush/Kerry election, in Chabon’s home of Berkeley, Calif., it follows the flagging fortunes of Brokeland Records, a vintage record store on the titular block run by Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, currently threatened with closure by Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback-turned-entrepreneur Gibson “G Bad” Goode’s plans to “restore, at a stroke, the commercial heart of a black neighborhood” with one of his Dogpile “Thang” emporiums. The community mobilizes and confronts this challenge to the relative racial harmony enjoyed by the white Jaffe; his gay Tarantino-enthusiast son, Julie; and the African-American Archy, whose partner, Gwen Shanks, is not only pregnant but finds the midwife business she runs with Aviva, Jaffe’s wife, in legal trouble following a botched delivery. Making matters worse is Stallings’s father, Luther, a faded blaxploitation movie star with a Black Panther past, and the appearance of Titus, the son Archy didn’t know he had. All the elements of a socially progressive contemporary novel are in place, but Chabon’s preference for retro—the reader is seldom a page away from a reference to Marvel comics, kung fu movies, or a coveted piece of ’70s vinyl—quickly wears out its welcome. Worse, Chabon’s approach to race is surprisingly short on nuance and marred by a goofy cameo from a certain charismatic senator from Illinois.
(Starred review.) If any novelist can pack the entire American zeitgeist into 500 pages, it's Chabon (The Yiddish Policeman's Union). Here, he deftly treads race, class, gender, and generation lines, showing how they continue to define us even as they're crossed.... [A] prodigious novel. Ambitious, densely written, sometimes very funny, and fabulously over the top, here's a rare book that really could be the great American novel. Highly recommended. —Barbara Hoffert
(Starred review.) A magnificently crafted, exuberantly alive, emotionally lustrous, and socially intricate saga.... Bubbling with lovingly curated knowledge about everything from jazz to pregnancy.... Chabon’s rhapsodically detailed, buoyantly plotted, warmly intimate cross-cultural tale of metamorphoses is electric with suspense, humor, and bebop dialogue…. An embracing, radiant masterpiece.
(Starred review.) An end-of-an-era epic celebrating the bygone glories of vinyl records, comic-book heroes and blaxploitation flicks in a world gone digital. The novelist, his characters and the readers who will most love this book all share a passion for popular culture and an obsession with period detail. Set on the grittier side in the Bay Area of the fairly recent past (when multimedia megastores such as Tower and Virgin were themselves predators rather than casualties to online commerce), the plot involves generational relationships between two families, with parallels that are more thematically resonant than realistic....Yet the warmth Chabon...feels toward his characters trumps the intricacies and implausibilities of the plot, as the novel straddles and blurs all sorts of borders: black and white, funk and jazz, Oakland and Berkeley, gay and straight....
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