Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Telegraph Avenue Read-Along: Dream of Cream Edition

Order your advanced copy here at Indiebound.

Welcome to the second installment in our Telegraph Avenue read-along hosted by the fabulous E. Crowe at As the Crowe Flies and Reads.  If you're a Michael Chabon fan, or if you think you might enjoy a novel based in late 2000's and 1970's Oakland, CA (hence the title), I hope you'll drop by each Tuesday in July to follow me and our gaggle of fellow bloggers as we sample this promising new offering.  You'll find my first post in the series here.

Note: This installment won't contain any plot or character spoilers, but does include both kudos and questions about the first section of this novel, which is titled "Dream of Cream".

So.  Here it is, with apologies for formatting quirks as I'm traveling and using unfamiliar computers & browsers:

Well.  Hmmmm.  I'm feeling quite ambivalent about my experience with this novel so far.

Thumbs up right now for:
* The sections in which character and conflict drive the writing.  Those were utterly engaging.  The section related to childbirth was particularly engrossing for me (vague to avoid spoilers).
* A unique time period to revisit (however wee we were when the '70's hit the scene).
* Jazz and film as indispensable elements of the mise en scene/zeitgeist of the novel.
* Occasional "ah ha" insights into human nature that coaxed a nod of agreement or illumination.
* Moments of much-appreciated humor.
* Vivid evocations of Telegraph Avenue itself.  Setting seems to be emerging as a character, as one might predict from the title.
* I enjoyed the section that contained the chapter title reference, and I'm hoping that the Dream of Cream is a real thing (vague to avoid spoilers) so I can enjoy it for myself at the end of the month when I'll be in the Bay Area! And, all you blog-alongers, I was way off on my guess about what the chapter title refers to, wasn't I?  

Thumbs reserving judgment:
* The execution of some stylistic elements and narrative choices jarred me out of the fictional world on a regular basis.  I'm hoping that as I grow more accustomed to Mr. Chabon's patterns in this novel, these elements will integrate into the flow of the story more gracefully for me.  If others in our read-along are comfortable with more detail on this, I'd be happy to elaborate, but I'll wait for the A-OK from Ms. Crowe before I critique!

I do want to express that I'm pleased to have committed to this read-along with the fabulous E. Crowe of As the Crowe Flies and Reads.  In my previous experience with such cyber-conversations, my commitment to the group has led to perseverance through novels that, in the end, were some of the most rewarding reading experiences of the past few years.  I trust that this one will turn out to be equally valuable, and can't wait to hop on over to the other bloggers on this read-along to see what they're thinking about Telegraph Avenue today!


p.s.  My Action Reader action is to view at least two of the films on the "Kill Bill" syllabus for the community education course in which young Julie Jaffe meets Titus Joyner.  (These two being my favorite characters in the novel so far.)


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Oh, me, too!

I mean that pretty generically about your entire post, but also very specificially about my love for young Julie. I heart him.

You were as far off on your Dream of Cream prediction as I was on googling the section titles because I thought they might be songs--songs existing outside the mind of Chabon, that is.

Also, as long as you give spoiler alerts to your readers, I think you should be as specific as you'd like to be. As the readalong goes on, I will be doing more of those my own se'f.

Nicole said...

I am definitely going to be moving through that Kill Bill movie list as well. I underlined and starred and ear marked the poop out of that page!

I'm basing my Chabon knowledge off of one title (Kav & Clay), but - what keeps me going is the hope that, once he really gets into the relationships between the characters, I'll be completely hooked. Kav & Clay had the same sorts of ins and outs, but by the end, it made the characters more real and the way I felt about them indescribable.

Kerry M said...

I'm with you on the ambivalence thing... though I was more intrigued by the end of Part I so I'm hoping it picks up in Part II. That, and that I can finally start to keep the characters straight.

Lindsey said...

I'm interested to see how the rest of the section titles relate to the novel as a whole. While Dream of Cream is a fun reference, it doesn't seem as connected to the story and its characters as I might have guessed.
It's so cool that you will be able to visit the Bay Area right after you finish reading the book. Maybe you can share some pictures so those of us who live across the country can see too!

Jennifer said...

Me want cake too! And I feel like I should at least watch Kill Bill since everyone in the book seems to think it's so awesome. Get myself caught up.

Laurie said...

E - Thanks for the go-ahead; I'll feel free to write frankly next time.
N - You predicted perfectly, based on your K & C experience: Part Two is terrific! (And I hope that's heartening for you, K.)
L - I'm wondering whether the Dream of Cream is more a symbolic treat that one relevant to the plot? Photos, fo sho.
J - I've only seen segments of Kill Bill, so perhaps we could do a "watch along"?

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