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Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon []



Michael Chabon’s mastery of language alone is enough to recommend anything he writes.  But the characters in Telegraph Avenue provide much more to enjoy. The story centers around two friends in Oakland, California who own a used record store that is “nearly the last of its kind.” Archy is black, Nat is Jewish, and their wives are also partners in a midwifery practice.  All of them are beleaguered by cultural and economic realities that endanger their livelihoods, but they keep doing what they believe in.  Meanwhile their children have their own troubles which are drawn sympathetically yet realistically.  The neighborhood, customers, relatives, friends and enemies are portrayed with a warts-and-all detail that makes them very multi-dimensional, believable and relatable.  The story unfolds at a deliberate pace but the humanness of the characters and the joy of Chabon’s writing will draw you in.  For music buffs, there’s an extra nostalgic delight in vintage vinyl.  Clarke Peters reads for Recorded Books in a rich, deep voice, delivering Chabon’s metaphors and dialogue with the power, humor and sly intelligence they deserve.

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