Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon – A decent book, but compared to others by him I was disappointed. In the past I’ve found it a delight to pick up one of his books every day, as I’m reading it. He writes colorful and eloquent descriptions of things, which I just love. Here, there was exactly one of those moments. That’s mainly why I was disappointed. In the larger story, he brings us to a neighborhood in San Francisco that’s maybe getting a little run down, and a celebrity wants to revitalize it with a huge shopping structure, but the people who live there don’t want it. This is the central point around which we meet two families. The husbands are best friends who run a (vinyl) record store together, and their wives run a mid-wife business together, one has a teenage son and the other is pregnant. One family black and the other is white. Both men are screw-ups in different ways, and crazy shit starts happening to them, around them. The main point is that the shopping center is going to put them out of business if it happens. How they deal with this and family issues, an estranged father, the death of a close friend, etc… is what drives the story. It’s largely a character study in my opinion. Lots of interesting characters, real people you might know and how they deal with life and mistakes. It’s drawn out in a lot of detail through the bulk of the book, and then the wrap up seems very sudden and clipped. I still like the author and will happily read more of his work, but when recommending him to a friend I would point them at something else.

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