All Things Considered: Michael Chabon Journeys back to ‘Telegraph Avenue’
On Point: Michael Chabon
The Book Show: Telegraph Avenue
Michael Chabon sets his sprawling new novel, Telegraph Avenue, in his adopted home of Berkeley, Calif., and its grittier southern neighbor, Oakland. With its multiracial, multigenerational cast of jazz musicians, former blaxploitation stars, midwives, gay teens and Black Panthers-turned-politicians, the book both celebrates and gently sends up the countercultural norms and complex racial politics of East Bay life. The plot nominally revolves around Archy Stallings’ and Nat Jaffe’s efforts to save their used-record store (located on the eponymous Telegraph Avenue), which is threatened when a black football legend and entrepreneur makes plans to locate a media megastore in the neighborhood. This exclusive excerpt finds Nat’s wife, Aviva — “the Alice Waters of midwives” — presiding over a home birth with her business partner, Archy’s wife, Gwen. The episode is part of a very long day for Gwen, who has just caught Archy with another woman.