My friend Al was introducing me to his colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle. “Jules, this is Annika; like you, another San Francisco transplant.”
“Annika,” I said, “What's the most annoying thing about San Francisco?”
Enigmatic Swedish smile. “Why don't you tell me.”
“The most annoying thing about San Francisco is the level of brilliance here. How can I compete with so much smart?”
She knew just what I meant, and so will you when you read Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, who lives next door in Berkeley.
When I read the first ten pages, I muttered to Effin, “He’s showing off.”
After 50, I changed it to, “He's showing off, but he has a lot to show off.”
At 100: “Jesus. It’s Bonfire of the Vanities moved to Berkeley, set to a jazz beat and trebled down on word play.”
Trebled down? One sentence. Not a paragraph, not a page, not even a chapter, but an entire section is composed of one. bloody. sentence. And it works.
Here are some shorter examples:
“Walter broke off a piece of a smile and tucked it into his left cheek as if reserving it for future use.”
“He addressed the class... in a soft, stupefied, increasingly breathless tone like an astronaut pleading with a mad supercomputer to open an airlock.”
“Vulgar language," Chan said... "Always the first and last refuge of the man with nothing to say.”
And this: “Her hair was a glory of tendrils for the snaring of husbands.”
See why it’s so annoying to live in San Francisco? If I practiced my craft for the next thousand years, I could never come up with “a glory of tendrils for the snaring of husbands.”
Post a Comment