Indie Next ListOctober 2012
On the surface, Telegraph Avenue is the story of Archy and Nat -- longtime proprietors of Brokeland Records, a community staple in the variegated neighborhoods of Oakland, California -- who face an invasion of Walmart proportions. But intertwined with their struggle is an exploration of so much more: love, in all its forms; race; gentrification; modern medicine; blaxploitation films; vinyl records; and the absolute greatness of jazz and funk. I don't think there's a writer alive who can structure a sentence the way Chabon does, and he's given us yet another masterful, unsparing novel whose vivid characters will inhabit your heart long after the final page. -- Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
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 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 complications 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.