Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Even though protean and wizardly Chabon has written an array of stellar books since The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), it has reigned supreme as his magnum opus. Until, perhaps, the advent of this even more magnificently crafted, exuberantly alive, emotionally lustrous, and socially intricate saga anchored to Brokeland Records, a funky used-vinyl paradise on the border of Oakland and Berkeley. The proprietors are "mountainous" Archy Stallings and high-strung Nat Jaffe, whose wives, too, work together, in a midwifery partnership. Gwen is pregnant with her and Archy's first child. Aviva and Nat have a smart, artistic, gay teenage son. A difficult birth puts Gwen and Aviva's business in jeopardy, just as Archy and Nat face potentially insurmountable competition in the form of a planned megastore. Archy also finds himself contending with a teenage son he's never met before and his down-and-out father, a former blaxploitation film star. This core group of African American and Jewish friends is surrounded by a vivid, scheming supporting cast. Bubbling with lovingly curated knowledge about everything from jazz to pregnancy to airships, Chabon's rhapsodically detailed, buoyantly plotted, warmly intimate cross-cultural tale of metamorphoses is electric with suspense, humor, and bebop dialogue. A virtuoso, soulful, and wise story of fathers and sons, friendship and marriage, music and meaningful work, and the spirit of a storied American neighborhood. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Chabon's embracing, radiant masterpiece will be the talk of the season. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Race, corporatism, and last-stand idealism: who better to explore these themes than Pulitzer Prize winner Chabon, whose linguistic razzle-dazzle discloses acute observations about our shared culture—and its borders. It's 2004, and longtime band mates Archy and Nat (married to beloved local midwives) still preside over Brokeland Records, a used-record emporium and de facto town center in a fictional space somewhere between Berkeley and Oakland. All's well until a former NFL quarterback, one of the country's richest African Americans, decides to build his latest Dogpile megastore on nearby Telegraph Avenue. Not only could this spell doom for the little shop and its cross-race, cross-class dream, but it opens up past history regarding Archy's untethered dad and a Black Panther-era crime. With a one-day laydown on September 11, a 300,000-copy first printing, and a 13-city tour.

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Library Journal Reviews

Set in the early 2000s in a fictional space somewhere between Berkeley and Oakland, CA, where longtime friends Achy Stallings and Nat Jaffe preside over a used-record emporium, Chabon's grand, ground-changing work explores crucial issues of race, corporatism, and last-stand idealism. Rich, baroque language, multiple intriguing story lines, spot-on cultural details, and inevitable wit combine here with Chabon's best attribute: a big, big heart. (LJ 8/12)—Barbara Hoffert (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Virtuosity" is the word most commonly associated with Chabon, and if Telegraph Avenue, the latest from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Yiddish Policeman's Union, is at first glance less conceptual than its predecessors, the sentences are no less remarkable. Set during the Bush/Kerry election, in Chabon's home of Berkeley, Calif., it follows the flagging fortunes of Brokeland Records, a vintage record store on the titular block run by Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, currently threatened with closure by Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback-turned-entrepreneur Gibson "G Bad" Goode's plans to "restore, at a stroke, the commercial heart of a black neighborhood" with one of his Dogpile "Thang" emporiums. The community mobilizes and confronts this challenge to the relative racial harmony enjoyed by the white Jaffe; his gay Tarantino-enthusiast son, Julie; and the African-American Archy, whose partner, Gwen Shanks, is not only pregnant but finds the midwife business she runs with Aviva, Jaffe's wife, in legal trouble following a botched delivery. Making matters worse is Stallings's father, Luther, a faded blaxploitation movie star with a Black Panther past, and the appearance of Titus, the son Archy didn't know he had. All the elements of a socially progressive contemporary novel are in place, but Chabon's preference for retro—the reader is seldom a page away from a reference to Marvel comics, kung fu movies, or a coveted piece of '70s vinyl—quickly wears out its welcome. Worse, Chabon's approach to race is surprisingly short on nuance and marred by a goofy cameo from a certain charismatic senator from Illinois. 15-city author tour. Agent: Mary Evans. (Sept. 11)

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