Sunday, October 7, 2012

Telegraph Avenue

I thought I was a huge Michael Chabon fan, but maybe I'm just a huge Kavalier & Clay fan. I found this book to be, for one, overwritten, for two, full of characters that I wasn't interested in and, for three, really similar to Wonder Boys in terms of the story, pacing and even, sort of, the characters. It's possible I'm categorizing Chabon in my head now less as "one of my favorite authors" and more "one of those authors, like John Irving, who are forever reorganizing the same several elements over and over again into every single one of their books."

Like Wonder Boys, the novel takes place over the course of just a few days, during which everything unravels. The way it all comes apart at the end is great, but I would have rather read a more conventionally paced novel about how all the main characters met and their lives over the 10-15 years, if not longer, that led up to the events of the story.

The one character I wished the book was about was Gwen Shanks, a midwife who is 9 months pregnant herself and having serious problems with her career and her marriage.

Chabon's portrayal of out-of-touch lefty activists who oppose just about everything was right on the money but I can't say I enjoyed it all that much due to having started my journalism career in a lefty college town and covered some seriously long-winded meetings. It just made me think, oh god, THOSE people.


Irena said...

So sad that you found this disappointing! I too loved K&C and was looking forward to this but think we have similar enough tastes that I may not bother.

Jessica K said...

I don't know if I'd rate it "don't bother," but definitely "wait for the paperback."

Millsy said...

Just catching up on your blog. I have to say, I used to consider myself a huge Chabon fan, but with every new novel or collection, I find myself enjoying his work less and less. It's now at the point where I just skip over his newer stuff and wait for someone to tell me how much they hated it.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay will always be one of my favorites and Wonder Boys was good too, but everything else has ranged from mediocre to terrible.

Jessica K said...

I really loved The Mysteries of Pittsburgh too, though that could be due to my strong sentimental attachment to Pittsburgh.