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Book Review Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon

October 15, 2012

If there ever was a book written just for me it is Telegraph Avenue.  The setting for the book is a used jazz record shop in Oakland California circa 2004 (and of course more specifically – soul jazz – the relevance not being genre, but specificity).  If that was all there was to it I would be happy.  But Chabon takes that obscure stage and creates an intricate argument celebrating the passionate fool.

The book has rich characters, humor, a wonderfully twisted plot and cleverly placed references to jazz records.  If that is not enough, half of those records sit on my own record shelf.

Chabon use vinyl as a metaphor for life – I am still contemplating that metaphor.

The best part of the book for me was the setting, but second was the unsentimental, yet tender, way that Chabon gets into his characters heads.  There is tremendous diversity to the characters:  black/white, straight/gay, male/female, young/old, etc.  In each case Chabon captures their dreams, their flaws and most of all their poignancy.

We are so bombarded by “follow you heart” bullshit that it is refreshing to hear someone encourage you to follow your heart knowing the outcome is heartbreak and heartache.  For Chabon the payoff is not the remote chance that you will win the dreamer’s lotto, but the nobility of living a passionate and foolish life.  In the end when you run into the wall of reality bloodied and bruised – it is not a failure, but a life well lived.


From → The Word

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