Michael Chabon fans are about to get another little teaser about the writer's much anticipated next novel—his first in five years— Telegraph Avenue, which will be released on September 11. In early June, we glimpsed the first lines of the book via The Millions. Tomorrow, HarperCollins is releasing a free "enhanced e-book 'first serial'" with segments pulled from the full enhanced e-book edition that will go on sale on Sept. 11, the same day as the hardcover.
HarperCollins describes the book as, "An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all of its own." In it, Chabon tells the story of friends, bandmates, and Brokeland Records co-regents Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, who run their "kingdom of used vinyl" with the help of their wives, "a pair of legendary midwives," Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe. Some You've Got Mail-esque (but not) conflict is soon to ensue, though: "When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode announces plans to go forward with the construction of his latest Dogpile megastore on Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear the worst for their vulnerable little enterprise. But behind Goode's announcement a nefarious story lurks." Juicy!
We got an early look at the first serial, which includes video of Chabon talking about the book (see below), audiobook excerpts mellifluously voiced by Clarke Peters of The Wire and Treme, and original illustrations by Greg "Stainboy" Reinel. The full enhanced e-book will offer still more illustrations, clips, and videos, as well as "some other extras that are still under wraps," we are told.
A sample from the audiobook excerpt titled "Toronado" showcases that quintessentially Chabon way with words:
On a Saturday night in August 1973, outside the Bit o' Honey Lounge, a crocodile-green '70 Toronado sat purring its crocodile purr. Its chrome grin stretched beguiling and wide as the western horizon.
"Define 'toronado,'" said the man riding shotgun.
Behind his heavy-rimmed glasses, he had sleepy eyes, but he scorned sleep and frowned upon the somnolence of others. In defiance of political fashion, he greased his long hair, and its undulant luster was clear-coat deep. His name was Chandler Bankwell Flowers III. His grandfather, father, and uncles were all morticians, men of sobriety and pomp, and he inhabited a floating yet permanent zone of rebellion against them. Nineteen months aboard the Bon Homme Richard had left Chan Flowers with an amphetamine habit and a tattoo of Tuffy the Ghost on the inside of his left forearm. The shotgun, holstered in a plastic trash bag alongside his right leg, was a pump-action Mossberg 500.
The first serial will be downloadable for free via iBooks, Nook, and Kindle retailers tomorrow, with a browseable version at HarperCollins.com as well. This should either help keep us sated a while longer or make us really desperate to read the entire book, which is pretty much exactly what it's supposed to do. To dull the edge of wanting more, we recommend watching Wonder Boys on repeat.