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Madrid City in English
Wednesday 21st of November 2018
Laura Tabor 1301 4th of January 2013 by editor 4th of January 2013
Telegraph Avenue

Michael Chabon Fourth Estate

Chabon’s writing style is notoriously dense, but in this thrilling, coming-of-age in changing times story, he has outdone himself. The novel chronicles two friends, Archy and Nat, who run a record store in a period of flux in Oakland, California, where racial tension still exists from the decades of the civil rights movement, including Black Panther activity that was influential in that area. Some complicated father-son relationships are added to the mix—Archy’s father is a once-famous Kung-Fu artist but long-time deadbeat dad, and Archy is about to become a father himself. The record shop is in peril from a big-box store called Dogpile that is moving, complete with its own used-vinyl section, into the old neighbourhood on Telegraph Avenue. Compounded by an esoteric knowledge of music and records, the descriptions are exuberant if occasionally dizzying, and the characters have almost a wild-wild-West feel to their dialogues at times: imagine “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us”. While the book runs long at nearly 500 pages, it’s almost necessary for the hoops and twists that you’ll find in the plot along the way. As in Chabon’s other books, he presents us with a few very crisp characters and let’s them run wild in their interactions, making for a rollicking tale. A good book for a cold weekend, perhaps, though it hardly paints a relaxing landscape of sunny California.

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