Friday 56 & #BookBeginnings: Telegraph Avenue

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For Book Beginnings:
A white boy rode flatfoot on a skateboard, towed along, hand to shoulder, by a black boy pedaling a brakeless fixed-gear bike. Dark August morning, deep in the Flatlands. Hiss of tires. Granular unraveling of skateboard wheels against asphalt. Summertime Berkeley giving off her old-lady smell, nine different styles of jasmine and a squirt of he-cat.
- p. 1
For Friday 56:
She also knew that she suffered from or had been blessed with a kind of reverse clairvoyance, the natural counterpart to to her partner's natural pessimism. Gwen was resistant to if not proof against clear signs of danger or failure. Not because she was an optimist (not at all) but because she took failure, any failure, whether her own or the universe's, so personally. 
- p. 57 (p. 56 talks about birth, so I decided to spare you the details)

I've just started reading this one! I chose it because it sounded so eerily like Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, which I so loved. I am getting nostalgic about vinyl. Then I get thrown into a whole chapter about a childbirth going all wrong. This looks like quite a rollercoaster ride. Let's see where I end up!
Synopsis: 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.


  1. I still have not read anything by Chabon... sounds quirky which is usually my thing but not sure about a whole chapter of childbirth - enjoy!

    1. Well it wasn't an entire chapter ... but this book is partly about midwives, so I guess it's expected :)

  2. I love the line "she took failur so personally." Have fun reading this week.

    1. Thanks Tea ... I'm enjoying this one so far!

  3. I like the 56 a lot. The beginning had too many starts and stops for me, if you know what I mean....
    Happy weekend!

    1. Yeah, I know! Let's see what the rest of the book is like!


© guiltless readingMaira Gall