[KINDLE] Telegraph Avenue author Michael Chabon – washcloths.co.uk
Count me among those that found reading this book a chore Chabon is obviously brilliant and talented but reading his work is a bit like being trapped in the corner at a party by a manic enius who feeds you dozens of brilliant different ideas at once but at such a speed and with so many different tangents along the way that s it difficult to take it all in Here to slow things down you often have to read sentences a couple of times just to keep track of what the noun and verb were in between all the independent clauses and tangential metaphors Thank God for e books with their at your fingertips dictionaries because you also have to look up at least a word or two per pageClearly plenty of readers enjoy having their minds expanded by such a prodigious talent but I found much of the information show offy It s amazing how many varied metaphors Chabon can spin but occasionally it would be Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples great to have a few sentences you don t need a road map toet through A character can t simply reach for a tube of superglue instead he has to et a tube of superglue the crusted tip of its nozzle forever pierced like some allegorical wound in a story of King Arthur by its tiny red capped pinIf that talent were used judiciously the reading might not be such a heavy slogIn the previews I saw a lot of praise for Chabon capturing the current cultural zeitgeist but I uess I didn t The Lost Masters: Grace and Disgrace in '68 get that He has four main story lines an African American Archy and his Jewish partner Nat have a record store in Oakland that s under threat when a former NFL star turned businessmen is thinking about opening a megastore in their neighborhood their wives are alsoetting into similar trouble as midwives when they have to rush a mother to a hospital during a difficult delivery and an obstetrician accuses them of negligence a son Archy didn t know he had shows up in Oakland trying to connect with his father and Nat s son who s the same age has developed a crush on him and finally Archy s father Luther a martial arts expert turned crack addict is trying to rekindle his earlier days as a star in blaxploitation films while also blackmailing an old friend who is now a powerful businessman and city councilman but who in his younger days killed a local troublemaker as a favor to Huey Newton of the Black PanthersIt sounds like a lot but the storylines themselves didn t feel like enough to fill up 465 pages If you took out all the authors efforts to prove his encyclopedic knowledge of every subject from the history of jazz to superhero comic books it felt like each story could have been told neater and fasterThere are some interesting historical details about the loss of mom pop type stores with the invasion of corporate chains Mixed in with that is an examination of the promise of urban renewal that a Magic Johnson like figure offers by investing in the inner city There are also interesting details about the history of midwifery and the conflict that Archy s wife Gwen feels between the historical importance that midwives had in the black culture vs what it is today primarily an option of privileged white women In one of my favorite passages a night school instructor ives the 14 year old boys and the other class participants a hysterically funny lecture on how Vincent Minelli s The Bandwagon influenced uentin Tarantino But this novel for me doesn t capture an era the way that Tom Wolfe s Bonfire of the Vanities did although admittedly Wolfe doesn t have anywhere near the writing chops Chabon doesToo often though the novel ets bogged down with evidence of how smart Chabon is thrown up on every page There are other novelists I love like Robert Cohen whose Rites, Rights and Rhythms: A Genealogy of Musical Meaning in Colombia's Black Pacific genius and prolific imagination are evident in every sentence But Cohen fills his novels withreat insights into what it means to be human I don t need to read several pages about how to reassemble an organ speaker as Chabon does with the writer proving he knows the exact name for every partWith Chabon he also often makes you feel stupid for not having a PhD in pop culture Not of all his references are self contained Near the end of the novel when Archy s wife Gwen is iving birth Nat s son Julius is helping her deal with the pain by recounting scenes from Star Trek He writes about an episode in which the female companion to the evil Kirk uses a Tantalus Field to overcome her adversaries When Gwen faces the prospect of having the doctor who charged her with negligence deliver her baby she asks Julius to cast a Tantalus Field on the
Doctor Now I Vaguely Remember Seeing That Now I vaguely remember seeing that but I don t remember what the Tantalus Field was and I m not reeducated on exactly what it was by Chabon s descriptionMy final complaint is one I ve had with previous Chabon novels He often writes ay lovemaking scenes in very specific detail and while I don t have any problem with that I wish he would ive hetero lovemaking eual time The two sex scenes in this novel are not for the sueamish because they involve sexual experimentation between the two 14 year old boys and an episode when the philandering Archy sodomizes consensually his wife s transgendered assistantI don t regret finishing this one although it took me a long while to et through it because I wasn t always motivated to pick it up His writing reminds me of Zadie Smith It may sound oxymoronic but there s just too much sheer brilliance on every page and in every sentence Call me insecure and maybe even a philistine but I prefer to read novelists whose own writing style is less obvious so that I can et into the characters and be moved by the circumstances they find themselves in I find Chabon s style which constantly reminds me there s a much brilliant mind than mine stringing these sentences together keeps me too disconnected from the characters And what is the infamous 11 page sentence other than a break in the characters story to show another explicit example of what a virtuoso Chabon isI didn t always feel this way about Chabon I haven t read all of his books but I did like Mysteries of Pittsburgh and the marvelous The Wonder Boys But the Pulitzer prize winning Kavalier and Clay left me feeling the same way this one did After this experience he may be off my must read author listI m sure this book will be on many Best of the Year lists but it seems to me book critics and judges are mesmerized by the kind of writing that often turns me off Hey check out my razzle dazzle dictionary demanding neverending prose that rolls off the page like marbles falling from a flatbed truck rabbing you like a Les Ténébreuses - Tome I - La Fin d'un monde gardener slove in a Venus flytrap moaning like Robert Johnson on a late night radio blues show carousing like a Common Ornery Cokeheaded Ho Intransigently Seeking Excitement that s COCHISE Karneval, Vol. 4 get it continuing on and on and on and on like my man Joyce s Molly Bloom without ever switching sentences cause I m producing a Ulysses for the twenty first century so please don t stop me now when I haven t even made it to Page Two and I ve stillot than 450 pages to The Hiding Place go Sorry about that Well not really But let s face it there areuys who seem to be in love with the sounds of their own voices There s the pompous one holding forth at the restaurant table right next to you Or the oblivious jerk shouting into his cell phone on an adjacent treadmill And then ladies and entlemen there s the celebrated Michael Chabon who tosses sentences at you like firecrackers they dazzle sparkle pop crackle and snap but ultimately they just annoy and fizzle outIt s obvious that Chabon possesses a substantial and energetic writerly talent but just what is he attempting to
here Is he hoping establish his street cred Is he trying to tell a significant and memorable story Is he looking to create the verbal euivalent of jazz riffs Most likely it s all three but in Telegraph Avenue this tripartite mix creates a cacophony that radually becomes unbearable Conseuently what might have been an exceptional book becomes a complete turn off I don t ive up on many novels but after some 250 pages of *This One I Had *one I had than enough I was afraid I wouldn t like this book My daughter ave it to me last year I d already been unable to finish one of the three books she ave me and when As the summer of 2004 draws to a close Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there longtime friends bandmates and co regents of Brokeland Records a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland Their wives Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth Jaffe are the Berkeley Birth Partners a pair of semi legendary midwives who have welcomed th.
Accomplish Here Is He Hoping
Michael Chabon å 7 ReadOth I felt too often that I was reading an El Leonard book written towards the Ivy Lea A bunch of uirky characters wear clothes from the 70s and use old technology like a portable 8 track player while dealing with each other s personal tics I honestly wasn t sure if I was reading a Michael Chabon novel or a Wes Anderson screenplay for a whileArchy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are co owners of a vintage record store in Oakland but the business is circling the drain A former pro football player is about to finish them off by opening up a huge retail store featuring an extensive used vinyl section just down the street Their wives Gwen and Aviva are also partners in a midwife practice but when a home delivery oes sour they also find their business at risk Archy and Gwen are about to have a baby but he can t stop cheating on her The sudden appearance of a 14 year old son named Titus he has never acknowledged doesn t do a lot for the marital harmony Nat s son Julius is Sklaven für Wutawia + Gauner mit der 'Goldenen Hand' geeky kid with a love of comic books and Tarantino movies who is just realizing that he say and falls for Titus If that wasn t enough eneral confusion Archy s estranged father a former star of black exploitation movies shows up again with a blackmail scheme in which he tries to shake down the ex athlete that is about to put Archy out of businessAs you can tell from the summary there s a lot oing on in this book Archy is at the heart of it and he s an interesting character An oversized vinyl buff who wears vintage leisure suits Archy seems like a calm and mellow Changing Face of the Hero guy who rolls with the punches but over the course of the book Chabon shows how he s a man terrified of choice and conseuences so he floats along trying to keep everything the same even as he knows big changes are inevitable with a baby on the way and his businessoing under He reminded me a lot of another Chabon character Grady Tripp from Wonder BoysThe other characters are well thought out and the whole story has a funny bittersweet feel to it There s a couple of times where I felt like a character deserved a brisk slap for being too self indulgent but Chabon does a The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time: A Collection of Poetry good job of sensing those moments and having another character call them on itI particularly liked that even though this involved a collectible industry and has a lot ofeek shout outs to comic books and other nerd touchstones that Chabon never lets it devolve into nostalgia porn There s an interesting undercurrent of the old school small community based business versus the modern corporate world but Chabon doesn t supply easy answers It s pointed out that the big store would create hundreds of jobs and revitalize a dying neighborhood while the used record store is of a hobby than a business for Archy and Nat Gwen and Aviva have to deal with hospital politics to keep their privileges for their home birth practice while the doctors treat them like crap The biggest struggles the characters have with each other and themselves is trying to strike the balance of trying to work on their own terms while being responsible and providing for their familiesWhile it s an entertaining read filled with off beat characters it never really sucked me in the same way that The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay did and I d rank Wonder Boys and The Yiddish Policemen s Union ahead of it It s certainly not a bad book it just doesn t seem to have the depth that Chabon s other work I ve read had I wanted to like it The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is one of my favorite books of all time and I went into this one with excitement and enthusiasm Unfortunately that only lasted about fifty pages I shouldered through because I wanted to StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through The Power of Story give Chabon the benefit of the doubt In the end I think the novel could have been saved with some judicious editing It should have been about a third shorter Chabon lets his thoughts run away from him and while his many asides are beautifully written they distract fro They were little than boys and yet while they differed in race in temperament and in their understanding of love they were united in this The remnant of their boyhood was a ballast they wished to cut away Michael Chabon Telegraph AvenueI lived for several idyllic months during my virgin adulthood in Boulder Colorado There was a term often tossed around at least then that Boulder was 20 suare miles surrounded by reality I ve since heard the same line used for Madison Austin and Berkeley Like Boulder the real Telegraph Avenue exists in an idealized borderland surrounded by reality that stretches 45 miles from downtown Oakland to UC Berkeley On this street you find the restaurants used clothing shops street vendors bookstores RECORD SHOPS college students hipsters eccentrics tourists and the homeless This setting like Brokeland itself is in many ways the natural habitat of Chabon That very setting is both a blessing and a curse in this novel First it allows Chabon to do what he does best He can vamp about people sing with the language of the street jump jive and pirouette with English prose in a way that makes writers drool with envy Telegraph Avenue is 26784 s in 9 in x 62 in x 480 pps surrounded by realityThe downside is in Telegraph Avenue Chabonives us for the most part almost exactly what we expect It is a ostinato playground with strong and confident prose riffs but offers the safety of repetition and the comfort of Nat s call and Archy s responseBut let s just It's A Wonderfully Sexy Life get real I m reviewing this novel because I loved it Because I was waiting for his book to drop like my young son waits for his favorite balloon magician too to start blowing and twistingBoth Chabon s successes and his literary failures Lignin Biodegradation grow from the reality that he takes risks in one sentence than many writers take in one chapter If I judge him harder than this book deserves perhaps it is only because his previous novels The Mysteries of Pittsburgh The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay The Yiddish Policemen s Union etc have cast such huge intense literary shadows in my mind Any future work by Chabon has a helluva fight for recognition or euivalence Reading Telegraph Avenue I was tempted to believe that even Chabon s farts must sometimes sing when he is walking from Oakland to Berkeley Main characters Archy Stallings black and Nat Jaffe Jewish Gwen Shanks pregnant and Aviva Roth Jaffe both mid andwifesOther characters Luther Stallings drug addict small scale criminal formerly movie starValetta More Luther s sometimeirlfriend porn star ualityThe Undertaker and his family of angsters The ex NFL star Gibson Goode now a ruthless entrepreneur under the pretext of local developmentThe 100 year old Chinese Kungfu mistressCustomers at the Brokeland RecordsThe poor of the worldThe corrupt politiciansAn extremely fat lawyerA man in a wheelchairA lot of hot air contained in an airshipGuest starring Barack Obama In the plot we have all the elements a man s midlife crisis is supposed to contain Detachment from a drug addicted father attachment to another father figure who unexpectedly dies inability to take upon you a father role and out of *touch with your inner self Add to this an obsession with old cars living in *with your
inner self Add to this an obsession with old cars living in past and few extramaritalself Add to this an obsession with old cars living in past and few extramarital and you pretty much have Archy StallingsThe storyline is or less overned by Murphy s Law Anything that can The Lady and the Lionheart go wrong will marriage family relations ineneral business friendships will be strained and someone will et a beating or face lawsuit To complete the scenery we have a painful coming of age story involving a bit of boy on boy action between Nat s son JuliusJulie and Archy s estranged son Titus Authors Note Make sure to throw in a bunch of lesbians too and remember one of them is oing through the first phases of chemical sex change all minorities must be included Set in 2004 Oakland in the area around Telegraph Avenue and drawing lines back to the 70 ties there is a lot of colors colorful people and music But whatever the intention was this is like watching a blaxploitation film and not a particularly ood one The clich s are piling up and there is not such thing as refinery 476 pages of clich s are too much and just because you can a 15 page monologue without punctuation does not save the day 3 stars sucker. Meanwhile Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence one that tests the limits of their friendship Adding another layer of complications to the couples’ already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen year old Julius Jaffe’s li. .
Looked at some of the professional reviews I interpreted them as ambiguous So the book sat and waitedI ve read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay I liked it but it was a long time ago at the time I didn t have the hooks in my head to hang a lot of it on so little memory of it lingers I read The Yiddish Policemen s Union a friend told me he couldn t read it but I had it on audio same with Gentlemen of the Road A Tale of Adventure Listening makes it a different experience When the narrator is ood you can listen to a book you couldn t read and I wasn t sure about those two And I read The Final Solution because I like Sh What a delight to be treated to this life affirming story after sustaining a series of books by Chabon that did not live up to the pleasures of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay He clearly loves all his characters in this tale and I was uite satisfied how their challenges in his narrative led them to evolve toward their visions in some cases or successfully stumble past their misfortunes in othersThe story concerns the struggles of a black couple Archy Stallings and Gwen Shanks in keeping their businesses their marriage and their principles alive in their multicultural community in Oakland in 2004 Archy runs Brokeland Records with his Jewish partner Nat which faces extinction from the impending development of a big box book and record store in their neighborhood of Telegraph Avenue Gwen runs a midwifery business with Mat s wife Aviva which is threatened by conflicts with the local hospital and potential lawsuits from clients On top of these problems Gwen is due to deliver her first baby soon Archy s teenaged son he s never met turns up in town as a friend and lover of Nat and Aviva s son and Archy s estranged father Luther once a kung fu star in blaxploitation films from the 80 s is up to some kind of blackmail scheme In the middle of all this a talented jazz musician who was a father figure to Archy dies and most of Archy s focus settles on a funeral event that will bring the community together Oakland s Diesel Bookstore which hosted Chabon s book publication celebration and stood in for the closed one that inspired the book Berrigan s Records Listing some of these menu items I believe does nothing to spoil the reading pleasures that can be had from Chabon s marvelous execution of the tale Page after delicious page I found Schilder's Struggle for the Unity of the Church great comedy and pathos in his construction engaging dialog and flights of prose that much resemble the jazz riffs that figure largely in his perpetual homage and metaphorical references to music There is no hint of egoistic pretentiousness in his prose When he slips over the top it s all inood fun A parrot named Fifty Eight belonging to one of Brokeland s regular customers contributes to a farcical deflation on some serious discussions early in the book A remarkable chapter covering the bird s A (kinda) Country Christmas getaway comprises a 12 page sentence that darts in and out from the bird s perspective to an omniscient view of the book s main characters To me it ranks up there with similar stream of consciousness flights in Joyce Woolf and PynchonThe following are some samples of Chabon s the writing style and playful method of delivering insights in the bookGwen reflects on her marriage As for her marriage she had fallen in love with Archy Stallings having no illusions about his sexual past or his strength of character But the outbreak of forgiveness that followed each new transgression of her husband as typhus followed a flood called into uestion the difference if any between illusion and its willful brother delusion with its crackpot theories and tinfoil hatArchy trying to hook his Councilman to support his cause against the competing development Councilman you made me realize thank you but me and Mr Jones and Nat Jaffe and our kind of people we alreadyot a church of our own You too seemed like at one time up to not too long ago a member in ood standing And that church is the church of vinylSome revelations on Archy s character from his hero musician Cochise Jones You ot the ood heart Underneath all the other stuff Good heart is eighty five percent of everything in life Tears ran burning along the utters of Archy s eyes Generally he tried following the example of Marcus Aurelius to avoid self pity but Archy had not experienced a National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 great deal of appreciation in his life for hisood ualities for his potential as a man Only Mr Jones had always stopped to drop a needle in the long inward spiraling roove that encoded Archy and listen to the vibrations What is the other fifteen percent Nat said Just out of curiosity Politeness Mr Jones said without hesitation And keeping a level head A black entrepreneur behind the megaplex store puts the mission of selling used records into perspective
All right then look at it this way The world of blackright then look at it this way The world of black has undergone some form of apocalypse you follow me You look at the landscape of the black idiom in music now it is post apocalyptic Jumbled up mess of broken pieces Shards and samples Gangsters running in tribes But face it I mean a lot has been lost A whole lot Ellington Sly Stone Stevie Wonder Curtis Mayfield we ot nobody of that caliber even hinted at in black music nowadays I m talking about Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism genius composers know what I m saying uincy Jones Charles Stepney Weldon Irvine Shit knowing how to play the fuck out of your instrument Guitar saxophone bass drums we used to own those motherfuckers Trumpet We were the landlords white players had to rent that shit from us I m saying we are living in the aftermath All s weot is a lot of broken pieces And you ve been picking up those broken pieces and dusting them off and keeping them all nice and clean and that s commendable Truly Michael Chabon by Jennifer ChaneySalon Sentence to sentence just Gods and fighting men: the story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory great There s some wonderful writing about babies and about commerce and old stores and those parts of Telegraph where Berkeley and Oakland kind of wander into each other lived not far from there for about 2 years in early 90s at at about 61st just off Claremont Not to mention birthing and midwifery and lotsa nerd boy stuff Which is the problem As early as Werewolves in Their Youth Chabon started working the whole SFfanboyformer nerd angle into his fiction and there are a bunch of essays in his last collection about that as well And of course Kavalier and Clay is maybe the ultimate meta fanboy novel I mean that in aood way But here that whole worldview seems to have congealed into a key to all mysteries such that each of the characters OK except for the wife of one of the Charming the Firefighter guys who owns the used vinyl store but then we don t reallyet than 5 pages of her character in a 460 page opus not only indulges in some variety of archival inside dopery old rb comic books blaxploitation but seems to conceive of it in much the same way Which makes them all too obviously offshoots of one writer s mind and I don t really buy that It s as if the essential aridity of these male preoccupations is meant to be counterposed to the fraught reality and bloodiness of organic birthing with OK some irony since Chabon has one of his characters note the obvious fact that only wealthy white Berkeleyans can afford to o back to the land there so to speak but in a way that secretly suggests that maybe we re all secret archaeolgists of some kind of mass made crap or another Which I also don t buy Shouldn t there be some sort of statute of limitations on mining your sense of yourself as a fat nerdy adolescent when you are now as rich successful and ood looking as Michael Chabon manifestly is And in *Fact Has Been Since The *has been since The of Pittsburgh to judge by cover photos I d love to see him deal with his life as it is now in some way instead of continuing to pretend he s still that kid I mean he even turned writer s
block into Wonder Boys So why not o back to thatinto Wonder Boys So why not o back to that of honest self appraisal and write something reflecting who he is now This book drove me a little nuts It s plot is overstuffed making the whole thing much too long That wouldn t be such a bad thing if the language didn t irritate me so much Chabon tries to be both hip and smart while dealing with characters who seem to be lacking in An a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart half tavern half temple stands BrokelandWhen ex–NFL uarterback Gibson Goode the fifth richest black man in America announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. .