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Telegraph Avenue

Download Ý PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ↠ Michael Chabon

Way The world of black music 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 got nobody of that caliber even hinted at in black music nowadays I m talking about 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 we got 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 I was afraid I wouldn t like this book My daughter gave it to me last year I d already been unable to finish one of the three books she gave me and when I 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 good 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 Sherlock Holmes It was a novella a slight thing I thought then That s funny I ve read so many of his books yet I m not sure HmmAnyway a Goodreads friend had ust read and disliked it which had a paradoxical impact Why not take the plunge I thought Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old just for the halibutAnd I liked it Right from the first it sparkled and danced For a decade and up until this year I ve been listening to most of my fiction on audio There s been a niggling doubt that that had somehow messed up my ability to enjoy fiction I mean I thought I was enjoying the books I ve been reading this year but I had to try This bookust tickled me Not that it was all funny Sometimes it brought tears to my eyes But it pleased me It has reset my rating scale From now on those novels I thought were fours and fives are going to have to be threes and foursThe book is the story of two couples The two guys are in business together the vintage record business and the two wives are midwife partners One of the guys has a failed celebrity father who along with society has instilled in him some unhelpful tendencies In a way he s the protagonist except that so is his wife and maybe the other couple too Their children two fourteen year old boys become friends and get into the action They all care about even love each other and the author loves them too None of them are generic characters unlike the characters of say Gone Girl or Freedom That s one thing that was so refreshing real people The book is set in the almost now Change is coming Tensions are created Demands are placed What will happen to the people and what will they do The publisher s blurb gives a little detail but not necessarily clarityThe publisher s blurb also calls it the great American novel we ve been waiting for I don t know about that Chabon is a virtuoso with words What he does is sketch in character with deft sure strokesSome people thought he was pretentious with his vocabulary I don t get that If I don t know what a word means I don t always stop and look it up shame but there weren t that many Wait I didn t get every one of the cultural references There are a lot of musical references But I got enough The references after all were from the 70sWhen I went back and looked at the professional reviews after I d read it they didn t look the same to me as before They were positive Goodreads reviews are a different kettle of fish ranging from one to five stars There s no accounting for taste Thank goodness people have different tastes and that there are so many books But for this book some people reacted ust about as though it were criticizing their religion I can see how some people wouldn t like this book on ideological grounds It s America I m thinking of having less of a feel for the other parts of the worldHere s what I think this book is about in one of the fourteen year old s science fiction termsWhen you changed a planet s atmosphere and environment to suit the needs of human physiology that was terraforming pantropy meant the alteration of the human form and mind to allow survival even Prosperity On A Harsh Unforgiving World In The Struggle To on a harsh unforgiving world In the struggle to and flourish on the planet of America some black people had opted for the epic tragedy grand and bitter of terraforming others like Gwen s parents and their parents and grandparents before them had engaged in a long and selective program of pantropy Black pantropy had produced in Gwen and her brothers a clutch of viable and effortless success breathers able to soar and bank on the thermals of opportunity and defy the killing gravity of the colony worldYes I have thought about the Booker T Washington modality contrasted with the MLK gravity of the colony worldYes I have thought about the Booker T Washington modality contrasted with the MLK a la Michelle Alexander s The New Jim Crow Sometimes we need a revolution But watch out about insisting on what other people s roles should be who s the real beneficiaryThis book is about black people and about people who are in but not of whiteness who if that other book I reviewed Price of Whiteness Jews Race American Identity is right have been white for about 70 years nowI also read up a little on uentin Tarantino before writing this review since I understood two Goodreads reviewers to be comparing Chabon s book unfavorably to Tarantino s cultural grasp and black movie characters If you are looking for uentin Tarantino this book is not for you Otherwise you might ust love it as I did I hope I haven t gone down a negative path or analyzed it to deathThere were a couple characters I had difficulty pinning down but after the first few pages I had the main characters down This is not one of those books that reuires a diagram of characters I thought two of the characters got off too easy for what they had done and that probably wouldn t have happened in real life but it didn t bother me much And we know some of the characters will soon have some additional shocks coming knowing as we do what happened to the economy a few years later Hey check out my razzle dazzle dictionary demanding neverending prose that rolls off the page like marbles falling from a flatbed truck grabbing you like a gardener s glove 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 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 still got than 450 pages to go Sorry about that Well not really But let s face it there are guys 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 Count me among those that found reading this book a Chore Chabon Is Obviously Chabon is obviously and talented but reading his work is a bit like being trapped in the corner at a party by a manic genius 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 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.
The Book of Air
Ek 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 Gray Bishop 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 itust doesn t seem to have the depth that Chabon s other work I ve read had 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 both I felt too often that I was reading an El Leonard book written towards the Iv Sentence to sentence ust 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 ust 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 a good 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 guys who owns the used vinyl store but then we don t really get 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 go 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 good looking as Michael Chabon manifestly is And in fact has been since The Mysteries of Pittsburgh to udge 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 go back to that sense of honest self appraisal and write something reflecting who he is now 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 keeping their businesses their marriage and 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 azz 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 great comedy and pathos in his construction engaging dialog and flights of prose that much resemble the azz 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 in good 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 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 marriage she had fallen 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 already got a church of our own You and our kind of people we already got a church of our own You seemed like at one time up to not too long ago a member in good standing And that church is the church of vinylSome revelations on Archy s character from his hero musician Cochise Jones You got the good heart Underneath all the other stuff Good heart is eighty five percent of everything in life Tears ran burning along the gutters of Archy s eyes Generally he tried following the example of Marcus Aurelius to avoid self pity but Archy had not experienced a great deal of appreciation in his life for his good ualities for his potential as a man Only Mr Jones had always stopped to drop a needle in the long inward spiraling groove 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. 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. 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 sometime girlfriend porn star ualityThe Undertaker and his family of gangsters 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 the past and few extramarital affairs and you pretty much have Archy StallingsThe storyline is or less governed by Murphy s Law Anything that can go wrong will marriage family relations in general business friendships will be strained and someone will get 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 going 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 good one The clich s are piling up and there is not such thing as refinery 476 pages of clich s are too much and ust because you can a 15 page monologue without punctuation does not save the day 3 stars sucker 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 Noir jumpive 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 Chabon gives 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 Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are just 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 to go to start blowing and twistingBoth Chabon s successes and his literary failures grow from the reality that he takes risks in one sentence than many writers take in one chapter If Iudge 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 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 give Chabon the benefit of the doubt In the end I think the Novel Could Have Been Saved With Some Judicious Editing It could have been saved with some udicious editing It have been about a third shorter Chabon lets his thoughts run away from him and while his many asides are beautifully written they distract from the story in a way that is not pleasant By the end of the book they began to seem pretentious to me like Chabon was so proud of his prose that he couldn t care less if it fit so long As You Read How Talented He Is The 12 Pageone you read how talented he is The 12 pageone chapter in the middle which is written from the point of view of a parrot flying over Oakland ust about killed me I was ready to throw the book across the train Looking back I m not sure why I bothered to finish the bookThe characters should be better than they are all of Chabon s asides get in the way of their development as people and I think Chabon was hoping that readers would see motivation in them than he actually ever earned Do yourself a favor and read Kavalier and Clay again instead Chabon might be great again one day but he has to listen to a really good editor first 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 Circumstantial Evidence just down the street Their wives Gwen and Aviva are also partners in a midwife practice but when a home delivery goes 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 geeky kid with a love of comic books and Tarantino movies who isust realizing that he s gay and falls for Titus If that wasn t enough general 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 going 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 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 business going 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 good ob 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 of ge. 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. ,