Now that I have completed the first section, I am reminded why I love Michael Chabon's novels so much. He immerses the reader so completely in the lives and thoughts of his characters. In the first few pages, you may feel like you are struggling to swim because Chabon likes to drop you right into the deep end of the pool. There are no idyllic chapters that set the scene before the action begins. Instead, you are immediately a part of the events going on in the lives of the characters.
Telegraph Avenue centers around two friends who own a record store in California - Archy and Nat. Archy is expecting his first child and Nat is the father of a teenage boy. Their wives, Gwen and Aviva, are a renowned team of midwives. Archy and Nat are feeling the pressure of being small business owners as a media mogul is developing a mega-store down the street, threatening to put them out of business. To top things off, Nat's son Julius has started to date another boy who might turn out to have an important connection to Archy.
This novel is not one you can read while half paying attention, or just plow through in a day. It is a big book with a lot going on. Before we hit page 200, we have encountered a home birth, the first meeting of a young gay couple, the discovery of infidelity, and an attempted assassination. What I really appreciate about reading Chabon's novels is that he doesn't baby you. He assumes that you are an intelligent reader and can follow along without too much explanation.
I am excited to see what happens in the next section.Check back next Tuesday for my thoughts on section two, The Church of Vinyl.