Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (Harper, 2012).
I thought this novel lived up to its enthusiastic reviews, unlike some I’ve chosen from the New Books section of Book Page. The descriptions of the urban Oakland, California neighborhood were vivid, and the characters (a white couple, a black couple, and their friends, relatives, and customers) were well developed. The two men owned a used record store together and their wives were midwives (one pregnant herself). They and their friends were struggling to keep their Telegraph Avenue small businesses afloat in the face of the general corporate takeover of things. The book jacket sported a clever design incorporating a 45rpm record. The writing was very densely packed, with enormous run-on sentences full of fascinating tidbits interspersed with fast-paced dialogue and plot. Every time a record was mentioned, they cited the label that produced it and the year. This novel was quite different from the style and genre I usually read, but I enjoyed it.