Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue

A Novel

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there, long-time friends, bandmates and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the sketchy yet freewheeling borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Archy and his wife, Gwen, are expecting their first baby; Nat and Aviva have a teenaged son, Julius. Cranky, flawed and loving each otherwith all the fierceness we've come to expect of Chabon characters, Archy and Nat have worked to construct lives and livelihoods that have a groove, looking to connect across barriers of race and class, and clinging to a sense of order and security through their stubbornly old-school ways.

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fourth-richest black man in America, announces plans to construct his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby neglected stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. What they don't know is that Goode's announcement marks the climax of a decades-old secret history, encompassing a forgotten crime of the Black Panther era, the tragedy of Archy's own deadbeat father - a long-faded Blaxploitation star - and the perpetual shining failure of American optimism about race.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2012
ISBN: 9781554682072
Branch Call Number: CHA
Characteristics: 468 p. ;,24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 05, 2020

Michael Chabon always speaks with a unique voice and creates believable, complex characters. Telegraph Avenue is a real place where Oakland, an historically African American city and Berkeley meet. The male protagonist is Archy Stallings, who is African-American and Oakland-raised. With his white best friend, Nat Jaffe, Archy owns a store called Brokeland Records, and sells used vinyl. At first I was a little confused about the setting, which is modern day, largely because of the nostalgia that characterizes Archy's yearnings for everything from Blaxploitation films to the Black Panthers to the music his records bring back. It is the story of a man who fears fatherhood as a man raised without a father who has a pregnant wife and a newly discovered illegitimate son. I bonded most strongly with Gwen, Archy's wife who is a midwife who struggles to establish the validity of her profession among racist physicians. She is amazing in her strength and her ability to love Archy. My favorite of Chabon's books is still " The Yiddish Policeman's Union " but I have never been disappointed by his books. Recommend.

Mar 24, 2019

after reading Yiddish Policemen's Union ,201903, rec'd by Scarum and googling best books of Michael Chabon

Jun 24, 2016

Outstanding read. Encompassed my whole life. Very well done -

Dec 22, 2014

Chabon once again combines masterful, entertaining writing with some powerful themes to deliver this tale of a struggling vinyl record store going up against a mega-corporate operation hoping to invade the neighborhood. Chabon's casual but insightful treatment of racism is brilliant, and the families that populate this novel are compelling, frustrating, bewildering, and beautiful. Chabon is one of our few authors who could convincingly be described as writing literary fiction that might also be called plot-driven popular fiction. He inhabits the best of both worlds, and brings us along for the ride.

Dec 01, 2014

I totally agree with salpal37. The author allowed his artifice of composition ruin what could have been a good story with strong characters. It took me weeks to plow my way through the over cooked descriptions...reading this book felt like punishment!

Sep 25, 2014

Got to page 37 and quit. I feel like the author was trying too hard to be clever. Got lost in the descriptions. Was not enjoyable at all.

Mar 03, 2014

The characters are compelling and the story line is good although not riveting. And Chabon's descriptions are amazing. My problem was that he just seems to go into too much detail which bogs things down. I saw Jerry Seinfeld at the Paramount a few years ago and he commented that with all the layers of decoration and glitz, how did he know when they were done? I felt the same way about this book. Some times you just say a chair is a chair, and you don't need a whole paragraph about it. It felt like Chabon went a bit over board at times...

susanbook123 Feb 15, 2014

If this book has been missing since Feb. 2nd, can't you send me another copy? There seem to be other copies at other libraries. I need it for a book group at Webster Library.

Sep 22, 2013

Exhilerating and exhausting. Reads like a Tarantino movie - deliberately so. Chabon is an amazing writer, but in the end I was glad the book was over.

Sep 11, 2013

On and on,on and on...the sentences seem to go on forever. His sentences go on so long I forget what he's trying to say. As for the great American novelist, he can't hold a candle to James Lee Burke.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PMPL

To Top