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Michael Chabon

We’ll talk with author Michael Chabon about America now and his hot new book, Telegraph Avenue.

Author Michael Chabon. (AP)

Author Michael Chabon. (AP)

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon goes for obsession in his work.  With comic books and the dark heart of the 21st century in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  With alternate history and a murder in Alaska in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

With soul jazz, vinyl records, and a couple of buddies just trying to make it in the new economy in his latest, Telegraph Avenue.  He’s a beautiful, joyful writer with a big take on the world and the human heart.

This hour, On Point:  celebrated novelist Michael Chabon, on America and our lives now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the new book Telegraph Avenue: A Novel.

From Tom’s Reading List

Daily BeastMichael Chabon is a poet of fandom. His characters worship at culture’s niches, such as the comic-books-obsessed duo Joe and Sam who star in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Other times Chabon’s own love for a genre animates his work; The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is in part an ode to Raymond Chandler.”

New York Times “The title of Michael Chabon’s pungent new novel, “Telegraph Avenue,” refers, of course, to the famous Telegraph Avenue that bridges Berkeley and Oakland, Calif., that frisky, clamorous thoroughfare so identified, since the 1960s, with the counterculture and community life.”

USA Today “Leaving the distant past, alternate histories and fantasy behind, Chabon brings us a moving, sprawling, modern-day tale that uses the improvisational shifts and rhythms of jazz and soul to tell the story of two couples, one black, one white, and the distressed, interracial community they call home.”

Excerpt: Telegraph Avenue

Playlist

Four Play by Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns

Funky Soul (Part 1) by David Batiste & The Gladiators

Walk With Me My Love & Dream by John Klemmer

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GT3QXSWJJY7JUFMVUASWSHSPTA David

    I was introduced to Michael Chabon when I was an extra in Wonder Boys.  Of course, then I had to read the book and I’ve loved them all since. His insights into life and the human condition are wonderful

  • 228929292AABBB

    I admire Mr. Chabon for his intelligence and success, congratulations, sir!  For my taste, though, his books seem too much the result of a very concerted effort.  It’s seems like a draft is written, then a thesaurus and the internet are used to change half the words and phrases for obscure ones and allusions.  There’s just such a ‘I’m going to write a VERY INTELLIGENT book!!!’ effort showing through that the clever ideas and beautiful writing that are in these works get sort of lost behind an overall impression of hipster-smug for me.  There is an audience that wants everyone on the subway to know ‘I’m reading a VERY INTELLIGENT book!!!!!’ , those people need a champion who’s not as terribly depressing as that Freedom guy, and thank you Mr. Chabon for giving them work with a little humor and hope in it, that is a big contribution to the spirits of many.

  • CJaffee

    Hi, I would love to ask Mr. Chabon where he got the inspiration for the name of his main character, Nat Jaffe. By an odd coincidence, that is my father’s name, although we spell our last name with 2 e’s! I haven’t read the book yet, but the character also sounds a bit like someone my dad would have liked. Fascinating!

  • Michelle Ku

    228929292AABBB, I have to agree completely. I much prefer authors who write using the same 1,000 words that I am used to hearing in my daily conversations. In fact, I much prefer authors who write about experiences familiar to me, people I know, and places where I have been. Enough of the beautiful prose, Mr. Chabon! Stop trying to challenge me! I can take it no more.

    • 228929292AABBB

      There’s a difference between beautiful and contrived, that’s the point. 
      Some people can write beautifully.  Others can use tools to imitate it,
      and it doesn’t work, plus it’s a little obnoxious.  For a certain
      audience, though, let’s say the type which wouldn’t appreciate the
      difference between google translator and speaking to a native, that
      distinction is lost.  Those people just need the book as an
      advertisement of their self-measured sophistication, and Mr. Chabon
      seems to serve their needs.  Or, to ‘Chabon’ it, there’s a contraiety
      between pulchritudinous and unspontaneous, that’s the
      signification…..is that better?  Personally I think he’s a good writer and it’s noble to explore the vocabulary, it’s just that there’s such thing as trying too hard. 

  • 555Rosie

    I do not usually listen to podcasts, but when I saw that Michael Chabon was your guest, I had to comment. I have loved his books since I read the The Yiddish Policmen’s Union. Then I went back and read almost everything he has written. My favorite is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this interview. (I also listened to Ben Fold’s interview, too. That was wonderful, too!) Thank you, Tom!

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