To celebrate the release of Michael Chabon’s new novel, Telegraph Avenue (Harper), Diesel Bookstore in Oakland transformed itself into Brokeland Records - a fictional shop that features heavily in the book’s plot and which specializes in vinyl jazz albums. The familiar Diesel signage in front of the popular indie was covered last week with Brokeland Records banners and signs, and inside the store back-to-back display fixtures were moved on to the floor, filled with vintage jazz albums and alphabetized by artist.
“Things got pretty wild up here,” Diesel co-owner John Evans said. “We started selling copies of Telegraph Avenue as soon as we put the book out on display, and a lot of the vinyl jazz LPs too. It’s been fun.” A week before Chabon’s book signing last night, which launched his book tour, Diesel had reached its capacity for 200 guests and entry was on a standby basis. Admission was the price of a copy of Telegraph Avenue, which Chabon signed for all in attendance at the “Brokeland Bash.” The event was a fundraiser for Dave Eggers’ 826 Oakland, a non-profit writing lab and tutoring center for children with centers in four cities. “We also raffled off a vintage eight-track cassette player with songs that are mentioned in Telegraph Avenue,” said Evans.
In the days leading up to event, Diesel’s booksellers contributed stories to its blog http://www.dieselbookstore.com about their first jazz records, or very influential LPs. One staffer first heard Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” at the age of five during a grade school event. Another savored Charles Mingus’s “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady,” while Evans received his first jazz record in 1964. It was Jimmy Smith’s “The Cat,” arranged and conducted by Lalo Schifrin.