Tuesday, July 31, 2012

III. A Bird of Wide Experience; IV. Return to Forever & V. Brokeland (Telegraph Avenue Read Along)

So - I was behind, but I caught up! I had a fantastic stay-cation with many visitors. My brother came up first with his boyfriend and we hiked Sleeping Beauty (I'm including a photo of the view as an apology to my read alongers who actually posted on time). Then my sister came to visit and we watched a lot of The Guild, then went to the park for a picnic that was ruined by fire ants. Then my good friend from high school came and we nearly finished Downton Abbey. I mean - there was a lot going on. I'm sorry.

Apologetic view:

I'm going to keep the reviews for last week's sections short. I commented on everyone's blogs, so I know the conversation has already been had. 

 III. A Bird of Wide Experience

I think I noticed that it was one long paragraph on the first page. And not because I'm a genius or anything. The opposite - my mind starts to wander to laundry and other things if it isn't given boundaries. So I immediately thought - something isn't right here! That being said - I loved this chapter. It felt like I was taking flight with Fifty-Eight, watching Telegraph Avenue from his point of view. The sweep of the words and the brilliancy of the visuals swept me away. It's definitely the first section of this book that I actually loved. 

IV. Return to Forever

I had a thought during Part III that I thought I'd save until this section. Do you think Quentin Tarantino was given an early copy of this book? What do you think he thinks of it? Are he and Chabon buddies? I base everything off of Kav & Clay, but it seems both Chabon and Tarantino rely on the same eras of pop-culture. 

Another similarity, which seems to shine through to me even more now that we debated whether or not Titus is gay (and then, whether or not Archy, Chan and possibly even Luther harbor homosexual feelings in V) - Tarantino is kind of known for his ambiguous sexuality - I mean, aside from that foot thing that came out recently. That seems to fit in with some sort of theme here. Not to mention... the author. I know he's married with children, but - given the similar themes of both this book and Kav & Clay in regards to homosexuality... where does Chabon fall on the Kinsey scale

Archy grew a little on me this section. Mostly it was Gwen's admission that Archy is - "a man remained undiminished by her reluctance to confront him." That and the fact that all of Archy's inactions and non-decisions seem to be piling up behind him. He's a stupid man, yet somehow, at his core, a good one. He doesn't mean well, but he also doesn't mean ill. He's driven to stay still only by some sort of fear. And when you finally meet Luther, you can't help buy try and understand why Archy is the way he is. 

V. Brokeland

With the exception of the final passage, I thought this was a fitting ending to the book. There was a lot of that I loved - Gwen's departure from midwifery, Archy finally standing up for himself and family, Julie and Mrs. Jew going to get Titus so he could be there for the birth of his brother (and Gwen's desire to have him there), Nat finally accepting chaos and change. 

It was that last passage - even perhaps the last two passages - that kind of threw the ending for me (in such a way that maybe now the book gets a 3 when I do my full review, rather than a 4). It just felt forced, like everything he meant to accomplish was accomplished in the hospital room, but he still was obliged to tell us about Gwen's lawsuit and what Archy and Nat are going to do post-Brokeland. Though, I did love the last line: 

"He eased his foot off the brake, thinking as they rolled away that, after all, perhaps one day a few years from now, he might have recovered enough to feel like he was ready to stop in. Say hi, drop a little lore and history on the man, tell him all about Angelo's, and Spencer's, and the Brokeland years. See how they put the world together, next time around." 

The End

So that's it! It's over. Thank you so much to Emily from As the Crowe Flies (And Reads!) for hosting. It was a lot of fun and I'm going to miss all of the other participants. If you're interested, you can pre-order the book here


  1. *googles things* Lake George? Adirondacks? TAKE ME HIKING WITH YOU.

    That's interesting about Tarantino -- his movies tend to be kiiiiind of too violent for me, so I've never seen them more than once, and I definitely haven't researched him. This foot thing, what is it?

    And good call about Archy. I'm still not sure how to feel about him, but that paragraph helps the figuring out process.

    1. Well, I got kind of excited thinking you might've lived close enough to actually come hiking, but now I've looked at your bio and see you're in Chicago (a city I just visited and loved, btw. Still, if you're ever in the area (Albany/Saratoga-ish area) let me know! I'm not yet the greatest at navigating said hikes on my own, but I go with a really good group of people. And we Geocache.

    2. Aw man, you were JUST here? Boo. But yeah, uh...if I am for some mysterious (and hopefully exciting/thrilling/daring) reason in Albany, I shall contact you for scenic hikage. And I have heard of this geocaching thing, but have never done it. More excitement!

  2. Yes, I don't know enough about Tarantino's films to speak to where he falls on any kind of spectrum, but it would be interesting to know his reaction to this book.

    I kinda liked the last passage, because it really reinforced for me that Telegraph Avenue itself is perhaps the most important characater in the book, and that it will go on, just as Gwen & Archy and all the others will, too, in a new incarnation.

    Thanks for participating in the readalong--I got so mucj more out of this book reading it as a group than I otherwise would have...

  3. I ended up with a "so-so" feel on this book. There were things I liked, things I didn't (and the 12-page sentence fell in the latter category for me). Glad I read it, but I didn't love it.

  4. Oh, I was sad when Gwen quit midwifery! Then again, I'm not a fan of doctors, so I may be biased!

    1. Oh, also that's interesting about Tarantino. I don't know much about him, but that's a good question. I also wondered how Obama would feel about his random cameo.

  5. The ending was indeed strange. It was subtle and then sort of in your face cloying. I didn't love it. I'm not sure what I wanted to have happen to the characters, but it wasn't what happened on those pages.

  6. Wait. You're at Lake George?? One of my favorite places on the planet. That's a beautiful photo. I would be jealous if I didn't live on Lake Whatcom, one of my other favorite places on the planet. And I do send my sympathies about the fire ants. Black flies nearly slayed me there once...
    The Tarantino question resonates with me because I've been faithful to the film list thusfar; just finished "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly": best of the three I've screened thusfar and clearly a Tarantino influence. COuld you write a bit more about the Chabon/Tarantino confluences, aside from the fluid sexuality?
    Glad to have found your blog via this readalong; will follow from here on out!

    1. I live in the Albany area. I'm a little over an hour away from the Lake George area and have been heading up in that direction to hike the Adirondacks. My friend and I are starting small, but I'm hoping to someday do the peaks.

      I... think?... I've seen every Tarantino film. But I think I'm mostly talking about Kill Bill, where there's not only a heavy lean on martial arts, but on comic book culture.


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