I am a big Michael Chabon fan. The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay is one of my top 10 favorite books. I was excited about when Telegraph Avenue came out - Chabon always creates characters that are quirky and unique but who I emotionally connect to (even though they are almost always male). Alas, Telegraph Avenue didn't do it for me in the way Chabon's previous work has. It took me over a month to get through it, which is a departure for someone who usually reads books in a week or two. In the end I made it through and am glad that I did, but I am not sure I would recommend the book to others. Telegraph Avenue is a street in Oakland that is traditionally African
American but runs from Oakland into Berkley so serves as a symbol in the
book of the particular Northern Californian mix - hippie, African
American, affluent liberal whites. The novel is about race, gentrification, growing up, love, marriage, family, fatherhood, sexual identity and friendship. To me the book felt overstuffed - with ideas, with themes, with obscure movie and music references, and with long descriptive sentences. It was hard for me to connect with the characters because of all of this other stuff. While I didn't love the book, it did present good food inspiration. As soon as I read the words "yeasted biscuits" I was intrigued. I have made regular buttermilk biscuits often and lamented that they did not rise as high as the ones I would get in hipster Southern restaurants. I hoped yeast would get that sky high look I had yearned for. In the book, one of the main characters, Nat, makes these biscuits, along with greens and fried chicken, in an attempt to win over some people in his neighborhood to support the used record store he owns with his best friend Archie in an epic battle with a hip hop superstore looking to move into the neighborhood. I decided to focus on the greens and biscuits - together a great warming winter supper.