A few words about Telegraph Avenue

This book really snuck up on me. I think Michael Chabon is one of the best writers in the world, but for some reason I had never been able to get in the right head space for this sprawling, Ulysses-esque tale of fatherhood, childbirth, blaxploitation movies, and a used-record store. 

It was probably having a child of my own that pushed me over the edge, and after a couple of false stats I have to say that this book, especially the back half, dug its claws into me like few have. There is a scene about childbirth that brought back all of the still raw feelings I have from my own daughters birth. It perfectly encapsulates all of the ways that life can go wrong, but moments like having a child can be a salve to the soul, a reminder that life is bigger than the everyday struggle. 

It's been said that Michael Chabon is incapable of writing a boring sentence, and he knows it, there's a sentence in this book that goes on for pages, and it's great. Chabon is the rare author that can dazzle with his descriptions of a lazy Berkley afternoon sky, or perfectly describe the feeling one gets when receiving a proper dressing down by a significant other. 

There are references to dozens of genres of music in this book, and there is a rhythm to the pros in T.A. that had me almost tapping my feet as I read. It takes a bit of arrogance, and faith to write a 500+ page epic, that heavily borrows from a book like Ulysses in the 21st century. While I don't think Chabon hits every note perfect in Telegraph Avenue, I think the characters are so lovingly crafted, and the setting so brilliantly drawn that this comes as close to being a great American Novel as anything I've read this century. It took me awhile to fall under the spell of this novel, but like a great album, once the groove set in I was hooked.