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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beware Book Cover Cliches

"Don't judge a book by its cover".

My daughter did the reverse of the above by selecting Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue" (2012) to give me as a gift. She looked at the art, read the short cover summary and a few of the notices and decided I'd like it. It's wonderful to have someone who knows me so well. What a book.

Music, race, and endearingly imperfect people are a few of the key elements here. But avoid any reductive views at all costs; read this novel. Chabon's reach and prose are so thrilling, if I didn't own the book I would have purchased a copy after finishing. The last novel I read that had as many stunning passages as "Telegraph Avenue" was the "The Human Stain" by Philip Roth.

Relevant sidebar: A new reader recently told me after reading my over-the-top praise of Jeff Beck's version of "Over The Rainbow" here, she tried listening to it and was equally transfixed. Making her a convert to Beck's gift gave me immense pleasure. I sincerely hope someone will try "Telegraph Avenue" for a similar reason. Admittedly a much longer investment of time than a recording, but so worth it.

p.s. Putting people aside, I'm not convinced that hoary cliche at the top of this post is good advice when it comes to actual books. You?  

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