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Fact or Fiction

The East Bay spots in Michael Chabon’s latest.


Photo courtesy of Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

Berkeley author Michael Chabon is back this month with a new novel, which is good news for bookworms. Instead of occurring in an alternate universe (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union) or fantasy world (Summerland), Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue takes place right here in the East Bay, in the year 2004. Berkeley Bowl, Golden Gate Fields, Richmond refineries, and Mount Diablo all make cameo appearances, as Chabon’s imagination mixes real locations with fictional in an engrossing tale of two families’ lives along the avenue. Here are some stops along the way.


Book cover courtesy of Harper Collins.FICTION: Brokeland Records. A used vinyl shop run by two main characters, Brokeland seems to be a hybrid of 1-2-3-4 Go Records in the Temescal district and Rockridge’s Grooveyard Records.

REAL: Kaiser Convention Center. The site
of the story’s trading card convention was still open in 2004 but was shut down two years later.

FICTION: Berkeley Birth Parents. An independent midwife business one might come across on the beloved Berkeley Parents Network website.

REAL: Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library. This “alternative library for social research” really does exist at 6501
Telegraph Avenue.

FICTION: Golden State Market. A former neighborhood grocery store at 41st and Telegraph, the site of a proposed media superstore.

REAL: Telegraph Repertory Cinema. This long-closed theater, referenced as a long-shuttered place to see art films like Fitzcarraldo, had its heyday in the ’60s and ’70s.

Telegraph Avenue hits bookstores September 11.


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