“Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon Review

Telegraph Avenue

Author: Michael Chabon

Release Date: September 2012

** spoiler alert ** I was recommended this book as a good one for fans of Nick Hornby. The story is about two guys that own a record store, their wives that are midwives together, and the two couples’ boys who are friends and their complex relationship. **Spoilers follow**. The conflicts revolve around the record store’s new competition (which has connections to one of the owner’s deadbeat dad’s past as an action movie star), a possible lawsuit against the midwives related to the African American one yelling at a white Doctor, and the one son being in love with the other owner’s son (who was unknown to everybody for the past 14 years).

How did it compare to Nick Hornby? Content wise, the presence of a record store is reminiscent of High Fidelity, and the married relationships had some similarities to How To Be Good. The biggest similarities were the numerous pop culture references (which was my favorite thing about the writing). I enjoy when characters talk about books and movies because that’s what a lot of people actually talk about in my experience.

The biggest negatives about the book was how unrealistic the timing and antagonistic characters were. For all of these various crisis to come to a head on the same day (which of course lines up with an emergency childbirth) and be resolved in a few pages via happy endings out of nowhere (seriously, selling real estate?) left me unsatisfied. The villains super successful business strategy was basically Virgin Records and mode of transportation was only chosen to create a funny scene for a drunk to stumble into at the end.

Recommended for hardcore fans of this author or fans of the film Crash who wish all the characters were related.

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