Isn't Michael Chabon a writer perpetually teetering between impressive bright kid and intolerable showoff for the grownups? His spiraling, tender, funny, overlong new novel Telegraph Avenue [Kindle] admirably tackles race relations in Oakland in 2004 as friends Nat Jaffe (Jewish) and Archy Stallings (black) run indie Brokeland Records threatened by the invasion of a superstore. But then -- Mom! Dad! Look! -- he goes and writes a sentence that stretches twelve pages. Stunts like this, and an unnecessary appearance by Senator Obama, take you out of the characters' lives and remind you you're being entertained by A Very Talented Author Who Can Do Anything He Tries! As Andrew O'Hehir says,"Chabon is not a writer to let one metaphor suffice when two (or five) will do the job, but his style is so joyful and his dialogue so contagious that once I got in the swing of Telegraph Avenue I never minded the florid effusion of verbiage." F.E. of V., indeed. There's also an effusion of cray cray plot and coincidence. Their wives, Aviva and Gwen, run a midwife service called Berkeley Birth Partners, and the men's adorable film geek sons, gay Julius and "not gay" Titus have sex together. (Gwen is unaware of Titus' existence; for a while Archy doesn't know Titus is back in the Bay Area.) If you include the victim in The Yiddish Policemen's Union, this marks the fifth of Chabon's five major novels to feature a prominent gay male character, after: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Wonder Boys, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.