Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue" quickly drew me into its world via my love for music. "A book about a record store? I'm hip to that," I thought to myself. Heavily-laden with musical references and homages, the story quickly reveals itself to be about so much more. Gentrification is one sample topic. Race relations between the residents of the Oakland community as well as relations between different parts of the African-American community is a major concern of the novel. As a corporate multi-media store that claims to be striking a major blow for the African-American community begins moving into Oakland, small-business owners begin to question whether or not it is more important to fight that presence in their community, or whether it's better to get on board. Full of quirky (and dysfunctional at times) family drama, midwifery, film theory (including exploitation films and Tarantino's relationship to them) live Jazz, and featuring an appearance by Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, "Telegraph Avenue" presents a soulful and, at times, hilarious meditation on relations: race, class, sexuality, and otherwise.
When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth richest black man in America, decides to open his newest Dogpile megastore on Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy, the owners of Brokeland Records, fear for their business until Gibson's endeavor exposes a decades-old secret history.