Telegraph Avenue [DNF Review]

After 130 pages, I’ve decided to put down Telegraph Avenue. I tried to keep going because, while I never feel that I owe a positive review in exchange for a review copy, I do think I owe it to the publisher and author to read the book. But it became clear that this book was not for me. It took me two weeks to read as far as I did. I was not connecting with the characters, I wasn’t into the story, and I found myself re-reading a lot of sentences.

So I am going to leave you with the publisher’s summary and some positive reviews. Just because it wasn’t the book for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be the book for you.

Publisher’s Summary:

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there—longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands Brokeland.

When ex–NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in America, announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples’ already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe’s life.

An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we’ve been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon’s most dazzling book yet.

Other reviews: Layers of Thought; (the other) What She Read

9 thoughts on “Telegraph Avenue [DNF Review]

  1. Jen - Devourerofbooks September 12, 2012 / 9:05 am

    I’m starting to think I’ll only make it through if I do the audio. I’m waiting to hear from Bob how it is.


  2. jenn aka the picky girl September 12, 2012 / 9:29 am

    This is the second DNF I’ve seen of this book. I will say that Chabon’s other writing has taken me a bit to get through. His writing just feels so high-handed. It drives me crazy. I did finish Kavalier & Clay and really loved parts of it, but at the same time, there were sections that felt completely unnecessary. Is any of this why you didn’t finish, out of curiosity?


    • Michelle September 12, 2012 / 9:23 pm

      Yes. I struggled through Kavaler & Clay as well. I liked it, but it took me AGES to read it. Perhaps Michael Chabon isn’t the author for me.


  3. Bob September 12, 2012 / 12:17 pm

    I’m about an hour and a half into the audiobook. I love Clarke Peter’s narration so far, but the story and characters aren’t clicking. I know there is a baby, and used record store, but that’s about it. Hopefully, things will begin to come together today. It’s about 18 hours long, so I’d really like to be engaged with it.


  4. Sandy September 12, 2012 / 12:35 pm

    In the literary world, this guy is a Rock God, and EW sure liked it. But with 18 discs, it damned well better deliver. That is a long time to listen to something you don’t like. And it is probably the only way I would read it.


  5. zibilee September 12, 2012 / 3:09 pm

    I have heard so many negative things about this book that I just want to stay far, far away. I didn’t really enjoy his first book, and I am not going to be reading this one either. I’m sorry you were so disappointed with it.


  6. Audra September 13, 2012 / 1:06 pm

    This was a DNF for me as well — I hated everything about it. I tried so hard to be positive — it was my first Chabon, I was part of a readalong — but, alas, I found it to be really lacking. Ornate but flat, overdrawn but empty, too clever and yet super boring…


  7. Lennis September 16, 2012 / 1:29 pm

    I have the ARC of this on my Kindle, and I don’t know if I’ll read it either. I’ll try at least.

    I listened to The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. While I enjoyed it on audio, I don’t think I would have liked it as much in print. His writing is a bit bloated for me.


  8. Alison Lamont September 16, 2012 / 10:05 pm

    Michelle! So impressed by this amazing blog and your 2012 Reading List! We are truly fortunate to have you with us.


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