Michael Chabon’s recent works have befuddled many readers who were eager to return to the epic yet tender territory Chabon hit upon in his Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Telegraph Avenue, like all good fiction, provides its own rules of engagement, but its domestic adventure, finely crafted character, family drama and cultural criticism should satisfy Chabon fans, and will likely snag him a few more.
In a struggling neighbourhood in Oakland, US, we meet Archy Stallings, a man with a deep-seated love of records and a penchant for cheating. Upon hearing that ageing pro-sports legend Gibson ‘G Bad’ Goode plans to open a big-box superstore blocks from his beloved used-record store, Archy braces for the worst.
Rich but not indigestible, Telegraph Avenue delivers in the way great literature should. It juggles concerns of race, gender and economic status, and ponders issues ranging from technology’s irresistible march to neighborhood renewal.