When a book has as much pre-publication hype and praise as Telegraph Avenue has been getting, it’s easy to get expectations of the “next great American” novel in your head. (It’s probably not helped that the cover jacket conveys this same sentiment)
And while I liked much of what Telegraph Avenue did and I have a general affection for Michael Chabon as a writer, I still came away from the book feeling like it’s not the sum of its parts. On the surface, half of the book feels like it’s treading the same ground as High Fidelity in terms of centering on guys who work in a record store and reflect on life. However, while the two novels begin at the same point, that’s where the similarities end.
Chabon does a nice job of constructing sentences and phrases, but there were times during the novel I felt like he was trying too hard. I kept thinking to myself, “Just get to the point already.” Not just in term of sentences or choice of words but also the novel as a whole.
In the end, I came away wanting to love this one more than I did. I liked it and I’d recommend if if you’re curious. But it’s not a favorite and not one that I’m likely to re-read.