Book Reviews: 'Telegraph Avenue' by Michael Chabon, and 'This Is How You Lose Her' by Junot Diaz

“Telegraph Avenue”
By Michael Chabon (Harper)

Michael Chabon is in the business of turning out Big Books, wildly inventive tour de forces from the “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” to “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.” These are event novels, and none more so than “Telegraph Avenue,” with its story that improbably relocates Mainstream U.S.A. to the road that runs from Oakland, Calif., to Berkeley, right through the heart of the counterculture.

This sprawling novel, crowded with vibrant B-list characters, is anchored on two couples, one black, one white, doubly joined. Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe own Brokeland Records, a vinyl store in Oakland that’s circling the spindle hole. Their wives, Gwen and Aviva, are midwives in the only practice in the community still licensed to perform home births. Both are pursuits that time has all but put to rest.

Gibson “G Bad” Goode, legendary as an All-Pro quarterback and now as a businessman, is scheming to locate another giant arm of his Dogpile Thang franchise, mega-entertainment complexes capitalizing on African-American culture, just down the street from the store. His stock of blues, funk, jazz and soul vinyl will be deep and discounted, assigning Brokeland Records to history. The partners won’t go down easy, though.Read more.


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