|Oakland’s Diesel Bookstore transformed into “Brokeland Records” for the September 2012 release of Telegraph Avenue.|
I’m still not sure I get the point of the plot with Luther and Chan, aside from some intrigue, a way to stop Dogpile, and to give Archy daddy issues. Although now that I type it, maybe that’s enough? I guess it just seemed disconnected to me. I’d have rather spent more time with the foursome of Gwen and Archy and Nat and Aviva.
What did you like/not like about the ending?
I don’t remember any hint of the real-estate thing earlier either. I hope it works out.
My favorite thing about the last section? Gwen deciding to go to med school. I hope that works out too–maybe she and Aviva could have an innovative OB practice a few years down the road.
I was really worried we were going to get an unwarranted tragedy of some kind at the end, although I couldn’t guess what–I had this weird sense of foreboding going into the last section. I’m glad I was wrong.
K: That’s the word I wanted. The Luther/Chan storyline felt contrived which somehow seems lazy for a writer as good as Chabon. In some ways, the real estate deal and Gwen going to medical school are also a little contrived. I didn’t see either of them coming, so they seem a little convenient. I do love the idea of Gwen in med school though, and I hope she and Aviva are ok eventually.
I thought there was going to be some tragedy too. I mean, the section is called “Brokeland,” so it seemed likely something would fall apart. But it really was pretty positive, all things considered. No one died, and all of the characters that I think we’re supposed to like seem headed off in positive directions.
You’ve mentioned a couple times that Chabon is often more interested in some characters than you are — can you explain what you mean? Is something he’s done in other books? This is only my second of his (my first was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay), so I’m not sure if I’ve seen that as much.
F: I don’t recall any characters that Chabon was more interested in than I was in …Kavalier and Clay, but there was definitely one in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (where most of the last chapter seems to come from somewhere else) and a couple in Wonder Boys (who don’t show up in the movie, so maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about them!). In Telegraph Avenue, it was mostly the kids (Titus more than Julie)–I understand why they’re in the story, but I’m just not into them.
I’m sorting out how to approach my review–it feels different when you’ve already been talking about a book for a month. There were times I totally loved it, times it frustrated me, very few times when it bored me…but I don’t think it’s dislodged Wonder Boys as my favorite of his novels.
… I think my overall impression of this one is that it felt more ambitious than it needed to be. I loved parts and was frustrated by parts, but I always had a little nagging feeling like it was sprawling too much and that it would have been able to say more if Chabon had tried to do a little less.
That said, the writing was just gorgeous — visceral and raw and evocative and all those good adjectives. He’s a pleasure to read, even when the story isn’t going where you want or expect it to go.