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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,213 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Chabon Narrator: Clarke Peters Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9780062207784
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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, a pair of semilegendary midwives who have welcomed, between them, more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands Brokeland Records.

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in the United States, 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Chabon has made a career of routing big, ambitious projects through popular genres, with superlative results…The scale of Telegraph Avenue is no less ambitious…Much of the wit…inheres in Chabon’s astonishing prose. I don’t just mean the showy bits…I mean the offhand brilliance that happens everywhere.”

    New York Times Book Review (cover review)

  • Telegraph Avenue is so exuberant, it’s as if Michael Chabon has pulled joy from the air and squeezed it into the shape of words…His sentences spring, bounce, set off sparklers, even when dwelling in mundane details…Fantastic.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “An amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story…[Chabon’s] people become so real to us, their problems so palpably netted in the author’s buoyant, expressionistic prose, that the novel gradually becomes a genuinely immersive experience—something increasingly rare in our ADD age.”

    New York Times

  • “An exhilarating, bighearted novel.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Astounding…Steamrolls the barrier that has kept the Great American Novel at odds with the country it’s supposed to reflect…[A] huge-hearted, funny, improbably hip book.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Fresh, unpretentious, delectably written…For all his explorations into the contentious dynamics of family, race, and community, Mr. Chabon’s first desire is simply to enchant with words. Eight novels in, he still uses language like someone amazed by a newly discovered superpower.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Witty and compassionate and full of more linguistic derring-do than any other writer in American could carry off.”

    Washington Post

  • “A genuinely moving story about race and class, parenting and marriage…Chabon is inarguably one of the greatest prose stylists of all time, powering out sentences that are the equivalent of executing a triple back flip on a bucking bull while juggling chain saws and making love to three women.”


  • “Chabon’s hugely likable characters all face crises of existential magnitude, rendered in an Electra Glide flow of Zen sentences and zinging metaphors that make us wish the needle would never arrive at the final groove.”


  • “A beautiful, prismatic maximalism of description and tone, a sly meditation on appropriation as the real engine of integration, and an excellent rationale for twelve-page sentences.”


  • “A magnificently crafted, exuberantly alive, emotionally lustrous, and socially intricate saga…Bubbling with lovingly curated knowledge about everything from jazz to pregnancy…Chabon’s rhapsodically detailed, buoyantly plotted, warmly intimate cross-cultural tale of metamorphoses is electric with suspense, humor, and bebop dialogue…An embracing, radiant masterpiece.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “‘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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “If any novelist can pack the entire American zeitgeist into 500 pages, it’s Chabon…Ambitious, densely written, sometimes very funny, and fabulously over the top, here’s a rare book that really could be the great American novel.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “An end-of-an era epic…A Joyce-an remix with a hipper rhythm track.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • Selected for the October 2012 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2012 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, September 2012
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012
  • A 2012 Booklist Editors’ Choice Selection for Fiction
  • A 2012 eMusic Best Audiobook of the Year
  • A 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction, 2012
  • A 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason LeRoy | 2/20/2014

    " This inspired intergenerational panorama is required reading for anyone interested in East Bay culture and history. Chabon's writing is as electrifyingly alive as ever, and his knack for creating fully realized characters is astounding. Using an ailing independent record store as ground zero for a time-spanning story about fathers, sons, and legacy, "Telegraph Avenue" is like a funkier, less somber version of "The Place Beyond the Pines." Like most literary novels, it takes some time to really hit its stride, but once it did I was hooked. Even when the story lags or takes seemingly unnecessary diversions, Chabon's writing is captivating enough to keep the reader engaged. It wraps things up a bit too tidily, but was well worth the journey. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andy | 2/13/2014

    " Dude can certainly write (and write and write). Too many indulgent scene/head riffs from this more than capable author. Saw a lot that still has me thinking but in the end, I just couldn't finish the sucker bc Chabon was so long-winded. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 2/7/2014

    " Archie Stallings and Nat Jaffe own a used record store on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, near the border with Berkeley. It is a marginal neighborhood with vacant stores and small ventures like Brokeland Used Records. There business is threatened by a proposed mega vinyl record store owned by a former resident and NFL star that wants to have an impact on his old community. That proves to be a real challenge for Brokeland records and provide some hilarious encounters with the Dog Pile record company owner Gibson Goode. The two partners' wives, Gwen and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners that are very busy and well established in the area. The ensuing story has three main threads, the record store, the midwives and Archies long forgotten 14 year old son that has appears in the neighborhood after his grandma dies and forms a gay relationship with Julius, Aviva and Nat's gay son. I found this to be a very densely written, but delightful book that was like a far out jazz vinyl disk from the 70's. Archie learned how to be a dad in the end and he also learned how to forgive his dad for not being there for him. There is lots of comedy and heavier moments. The book really evoked the borderland area of Oakland and the cultural blending of the black community and the Berkeley inhabitants. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leah | 1/31/2014

    " I continue to read Chabon's new books after absolutely loving Kavalier and Clay even though it is impossible to be as good as it. This was really different from K and C and The Yiddish Policemen's Union, other than major characters being Jewish. The story is mainly about two couples- where the husbands are best friends and in business with each other (the record store) and the wives are also good friends and in business together (as midwives). There are also family members as well, one couples' son and his friend whom we figured out pretty easily (and early in the story) has a family connected to the group as well. Also one of the men's estranged father heavily ties into the plot as well. It's hard to keep everyone straight especially listening to the audio-version. The thing I enjoyed the most was hearing about the wives, Aviva and Gwen, and their work. This is the first Chabon book I have read were he has given such a prominent voice to female characters and they were my favorites. The storyline takes a while to build up and doesn't really go anywhere great when everything comes together. Plus I didn't like the way it ended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nora Strang | 1/29/2014

    " I forget it takes me FOREVER to get into Chabon's books, but once there, the reading is almost always worthwhile. In this case, it took over 200 pages, and a paragraph that lasted an entire chapter - 12 pages long...but the story lines connect and I feel satisfied I stayed. I enjoy the effort in coloring and bringing to life the neighborhood/city and it's inhabitants of Telegraph Avenue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian Kenneth Swain | 1/22/2014

    " I've loved Chabon ever since "Kavalier and Clay" and "Telegraph Avenue" is as strong as anything he's done. The character work is awesome and the ending is as satisfying as anyone could ask for. From a pure craft standpoint, nobody does metaphors/similes like Chabon and I will likely never forget some of his for my entire life (like, for example, "smooth as a porn star's testicles."). If Chabon is guilty of any flaws, it's only that he occasionally lapses into a bit of what I'd call over-writing, i.e., attempting to describe a scene or character's feelings in such an intense and memorable way that in the end it comes out as being a bit over the top. Still, I love the guy. He's one of finest talents writing today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kali Lux | 1/21/2014

    " wow, completely blew me away - first michael chabon book i read and clearly i've been missing out. the skill of the writing in this book is mindboggling. i listened to it as an audiobook, and my only wish was that i had read the book in a hard copy to look over the written word. i read a great article in the nytimes comparing the writing in telegraph avenue to a current ulysses. missing one star because i'm not sure it was an enjoyable read, as much as it was a literary masterpiece for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Iris | 1/18/2014

    " I loved it! Takes a bit of work to get into the rhythm of the writing and sentence structure but worth it - just like listening to jazz. Chabon is a wonderful writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan Heuer | 1/18/2014

    " The only other Chabon book I've read is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which was awesome. Telegraph Avenue isn't quite that, but it's still good. Great, rich characters (possibly too many of them) and a modern setting at the intersection of a few subcultures make for pretty rich storytelling opportunities, and Chabon does a good job at mining many of them. Though the promise of a "church of vinyl" novel motivated my purchase, I found some of the other storylines, like the midwives, more fleshed out and compelling. At times, Chabon's language is so clever it takes the reader out of the story. That said, it's a satisfying book, at least to this music lover from Detroit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 1/6/2014

    " It was very different from his other books. I enjoyed it, but I didn't get into it as much as some of his others. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cathy Waters | 12/24/2013

    " Too many words fighting for my attention. Stopped reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carly | 12/23/2013

    " Telegraph Avenue contains a cast of well-crafted characters and amazing metaphors, but the plot moved at a snail's pace. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Superkermit | 12/6/2013

    " Leuk verhaal, maar iets te vol met personages, levensgeschiedenissen en verhaallijnen. Ik vond het een beetje een mix van High Fidelity (Hornby), Bezoek van een Knokploeg (Egan) en Vrijheid (Franzen). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn Rose | 10/30/2013

    " Wonderful sense of place and time and marvelous description. At times I was able to go with the flow of that, but at other times the spill of words was like an undertow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 7/18/2013

    " Very well written but sometimes he got a bit too clever and the prose distracted from the story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robin | 7/1/2013

    " Loved Cavalier and Klay, managed through the others but had to put this down midway. In the world of twitter self editing becomes more important. Cultural trivia is fun to a point and then it simply becomes a deterrent from the plot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tap | 6/23/2013

    " not my favorite of his, but of course pretty damn good anyway... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Teri Ann | 6/22/2013

    " Loved this book. I didn't want it to end. Chabon's books are all so different; I became part of Telegraph Ave. I really enjoyed his characters & their relationships to one another. Parts of the book were very funny and others poetic. He captures the time, place, sights, sounds & taste very well. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Candi Mayne | 5/17/2013

    " Like Michael Chabon' books but this not one of them. Could not get into the characters or story line "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Caron | 3/15/2013

    " Chabon's superlative use of metaphor makes this s masterpiece of writing and a textbook for writers. For me, the characters take second place to the joy of reading his prose. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie M | 3/6/2013

    " Ugh...I just couldn't get into this book...such a GUY novel. Too bad too-I loved Kavalier and Clay, but nothing has been able to follow that one for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dawn | 2/20/2013

    " I'd give this a B. Took a while to get into reading Chabon's writing rhythm, but once in, the characters were interesting. The story doesn't wrap everything up, though... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 1/27/2013

    " Chabon's magical prose style is on full display in this humorous and heart warming novel. A tour de force from one of the best contemporary fiction writers around. "

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About the Author
Author Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the New York Times bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, the middle-grade book Summerland, and several others.