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, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart--half tavern, half temple--stands Brokeland.Read more...
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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, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart--half tavern, half temple--stands Brokeland.
When ex-NFL quarterback 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. 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 complication 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 life.
An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we've been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon's most dazzling book yet.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-28
- Reviewer: Staff
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. 15-city author tour. Agent: Mary Evans. (Sept. 11)
Travel by the book in 2013
Robert Reid is the U.S. Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. In a column written exclusively for BookPage, he highlights terrific travel books, both old and new. This month, he selects some of the best books for choosing your 2013 destinations.
Every year Lonely Planet’s world-traipsing authors and editors produce travel recommendations for the year to come, and this year is no exception with Best in Travel 2013. The picks for top destinations—the 10 cities, regions and countries that are the must-visits for travel enthusiasts—are always fiercely debated. Some are on the brink of discovery, others capture the zeitgeist, and some are already well known but worth a fresh look. For book lovers, here are three new books that transport the reader to some of Lonely Planet’s must-visit destinations for the new year.
Yes, Chef: A Memoir, from celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, hits two top under-the-radar destinations: the rapidly changing Addis Ababa in Samuelsson’s native Ethiopia, as well as Gothenburg, the Swedish city where he was raised after being adopted by a Swedish couple. Gothenburg is a Lonely Planet pick for one of the best value destinations for 2013—not cheap by some standards, but the most Scandinavia you can get for your krona. Samuelsson’s memoir is about more than just food; it’s a personal and thought-provoking trip through multiple cultures, weaving in discussions of family and race as well as cultural and culinary identity.
What’s closer to New York: San Francisco or Reykjavík, Iceland? (Hint: it starts with an R.) The success of Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo series cast a spotlight on the dark world of Nordic crime fiction and brought about a rush of new translations for English readers. Iceland, one of the top travel destinations for 2013, is also riding the wave, notably with the much-lauded Arnaldur Indridason, who added Outrage to his Inspector Erlendur series this year. The books are chock-full of Icelandic cultural detail.
With big changes coming to San Francisco’s storied waterfront in anticipation of the 2013 America’s Cup, the city was a shoo-in for a must-see slot. But one great reason to visit the Bay Area isn’t even in SF itself: It’s the vibrant food and arts scene flourishing across the bay in Oakland and Berkeley. For an intro to the area, read Michael Chabon’s novel Telegraph Avenue, which takes place between the two adjacent East Bay cities in a neighborhood he calls “Brokeland.” Locals will revel in the hyper-detailed depiction of the area, and unfamiliar readers will walk away feeling like they know the innermost secrets of an evolving cityscape.
Robert Reid is the U.S. Travel Editor for Lonely Planet and is still upset that other editors vetoed his Oklahoma pick as a top destination for 2013.