Fashion Book: Telegraph Avenue
I’ve already posted a few times about Michael Chabon‘s latest novel, Telegraph Avenue, but I haven’t had a chance to share my actual impression of the book after I read it. I think I’ve been hesitant, because…well, because I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. And while I can accept that you’re not going to love every single book your favorite author writes, it still feels entirely wrong to actively dislike that author’s work.
Telegraph Avenue tells the story of two friends, Archie and Nat, who run a record store in Berkeley, California. Their record shop and their friendship is under extreme tension as they attempt to navigate the complications of running a small business in the face of corporate interests. Of course, there are other characters who people the novel, among them Archie’s former action star dad, Luther, and his bombshell paramour Valetta; Chandler Flowers, the smooth undertaker and Luther’s childhood friend; jazz legend and parrot lover Cochise Jones; Nat’s precocious son Julie and his new “friend” Titus; and Aviva and Gwen, Nat and Archie’s wives, who happen to run a home birthing business together.
If the cast of characters sounds complicated, that’s because it is. The revolving story lines are difficult to keep track of and you often find yourself wondering “why should I care?” Nat and Archie’s friendship completely lacks the heart of Sam and Joe’s bond in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, not to mention that neither of them is likable in the least. The storyline I was most drawn to was that of Gwen and Aviva as they battle to defend their reputations after a home birth goes awry. That was the novel I wanted to read, a story of tradition and race and feminism and class and motherhood and privilege. Instead, the wives’ stories are relegated to the periphery of the larger novel, a novel I can’t quite understand even after having had a month to ruminate on it.
If you’ve never read Chabon, please don’t make this your first book. Even if you have read Chabon before, maybe it’s best to steer clear of this one. Or maybe you should read it and let me know what you thought!
Nonetheless, I decided to create a fashion book post for Gwen, Archie’s long-suffering and beautiful wife. Gwen is pregnant, and though she is clearly a strong, brilliant, and confident woman, she is too often described “wedging herself in between the seat and steering wheel,” “waddling,” and referring to herself as a whale. She is clothed in ratty leggings and old sweats nearly throughout, so I wanted to take the opportunity and create a professional, chic, and sophisticated look that Gwen could wear even though she’s pregnant. Here’s what I came up with:
Have you ever been disappointed by a favorite author’s work? Did you give them another chance?