Gumshoe Conrad Metcalf has problems-there’s a rabbit in his waiting room and a trigger-happy kangaroo on his tail. Near-future Oakland is a brave new world where evolved animals are members of society, the police monitor citizens by their karma levels, and mind-numbing drugs such as Forgettol and Acceptol are all the rage.
Metcalf has been shadowing Celeste, the wife of an affluent doctor. Perhaps he’s falling a little in love with her at the same time. When the doctor turns up dead, our amiable investigator finds himself caught in a crossfire between the boys from the Inquisitor’s Office and gangsters who operate out of the back room of a bar called the Fickle Muse.
Mixing elements of sci-fi, noir, and mystery, this clever first novel from the author of Motherless Brooklyn is a wry, funny, and satiric look at all that the future may hold.
Bestselling author Jonathan Lethem delivers a hilarious novel about love, art, and what it’s like to be young in Los Angeles. Lucinda Hoekke’s daytime gig as a telephone operator at the Complaint Line—an art gallery’s high-minded installation piece—is about as exciting as listening to dead air. Her real passion is playing bass in her forever struggling, forever unnamed band. But recently a frequent caller, the Complainer, as Lucinda dubs him, has captivated her with his philosophical musings. When Lucinda’s band begins to incorporate the Complainer’s catchy, existential phrases into their song lyrics, they are suddenly on the cusp of their big break. There is only one problem: the Complainer wants in.
Anna Karenina left her husband for a dashing officer. Lady Chatterley left hers for the gamekeeper. Now Alice Coombs has her boyfriend for nothing… nothing at all. Just how that should have come to pass and what Philip Engstrand, Alice’s spurned boyfriend, can do about it is the premise for this vertiginous speculative romance by the acclaimed author of .
Alice Coombs is a particle physicist, and she and her colleagues have created a void, a hole in the universe, that they have taken to calling Lack. But Lack is a nullity with taste—tastes; it absorbs a pomegranate, light bulbs, an argyle sock; it disdains a bow tie, an ice ax, and a scrambled duck egg. To Alice, this selectivity translates as an irresistible personality. To Philip, it makes Lack an unbeatable rival, for how can he win Alice back from something that has no flaws—because it has no qualities? Ingenious, hilarious, and genuinely mind-expanding, is the best boy-meets-girl-meets-void story ever written.
Genre: Mystery and thrillers
Lionel Essrog, a.k.a. the Human Freakshow, is a victim of Tourette's syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to shout out nonsense, touch every surface in reach and stroke people. Local tough guy hires Lionel and other boys and grooms them to become the Minna Men, a detective-agency-cum-limo service.
“Under the guise of a detective novel, Lethem has written a more piercing tale of investigation, one revealing how the mind drives on its own ‘wheels within wheels.’ ”
– The New York Times Book Review
“Who but Jonathan Lethem would attempt a half-satirical cross between a literary novel and a hard-boiled crime story narrated by an amateur detective with Tourette’s syndrome?… The dialogue crackles with caustic hilarity… Jonathan Lethem is a verbal performance artist.”
– The Boston Globe
“Part detective novel and part literary fantasia, [Motherless Brooklyn] superbly balances beautiful writing and an engrossing plot.”
– The Wall Street Journal
“Intricately and satisfyingly plotted… Funny and dizzying and heart-breaking.”
– Luc Sante, Village Voice Literary Supplement
“A tour de force… With one unique and well-imagined character, Jonathan Lethem has turned a genre on its ear. He doesn’t just push the envelope, he gives it a swift kick.”
– The Denver Post
“Aside from being one of the most inventive writers on the planet, Lethem is also one of the funniest.”
– San Francisco examiner Chronicle
“In Essrog… Jonathan Lethem has fashioned a lovably strange man-child and filled his cross-wired mind with a brilliant, crashing, self-referential interior monologue that is at once laugh-out-loud funny, tender and in the honest service of a terrific story.”
– The Washington Post Book World
“A true risk-taker… Lethem uses a familiar genre as the backdrop for his own artistic flourishes.”
– The Hartford Courant
“Wildly inventive… Jonathan Lethem has a knack for pushing commonplace ideas to absurdly literal ends.”
– City Pages
“Marvelous… Motherless Brooklyn is, among other things, a tale of orphans, a satire of Zen in the city and a murder mystery.”
– Time Out New York
“Finding out whodunit is interesting enough, but it’s more fun watching Lethem unravel the mysteries of his Tourettic creation.”
“Wonderfully inventive, slightly absurdist… [Motherless Brooklyn] is funny and sly, clever, compelling and endearing.”
– USA Today
“Utterly original and deeply moving.”
“Motherless Brooklyn is a whodunit that’s serious fiction… Lethem is a sort of Stanley Kubrick figure… stopping off in flat genres to do multidimensional work, blasting their hoary conventions to bits.”
“A pure delight.”
– The New York Observer
“A detective story, a shrewd portrait of Brooklyn, a retold Oliver Twist and a story so baroquely voiced (the hero has Tourette’s syndrome) that Philip Marlowe would blush. And tip his fedora.”
– Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Funny, delightfully complicated and so outrageously inventive that no pitch could do it justice.”
– Baltimore Sun
“A multi-layered novel that’s fast-paced, witty and touching… Prose diatpunches its way down the page, every word loaded with energy and ready to explode.”
– The Oregonian
“Compulsively readable… Genuinely entertaining… Improbably hilarious… Lethem is at his peak Nabokov-meets-Woody-Allen verbal frenzy.”
“Most rewarding… Delightfully oddball.”
– The New Yorker
“Motherless Brooklyn is Lethem’s finest work yet-exciting, strange, original, hilarious, human and soulful.”
– The Memphis Commercial Appeal
“A staggering piece of writing… On the edge of genius… The accents, class distinctions, highways, neighborhoods, grocery stores, flavors, scents and, yes, car services in a certain corner of [Brooklyn] are made vividly tangible, arising from these pages as if scratch-and-sniffs were embedded in the margins.”
– San Jose Mercury News
“Imagine the opportunities to explore language that arise when the narrator of a novel has Tourette’s syndrome… Unforgettable.”
– Los Angeles Times
A dead man is brought back to life so he can support his family in "The Happy Man"; occasionally he slips into a zombielike state while his soul is tortured in Hell. In "Vanilla Dunk," future basketball players are given the skills of old-time stars like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. And in "Forever, Said the Duck," stored computer personalities scheme to break free of their owners.In these and other stories in this striking collection, Jonathan Lethem, author of and , draws the reader ever more deeply into his strange, unforgettable world — a trip from which there may be no easy return.
A boozy ex-military captain trapped in a mysterious vessel searches for his runaway son, an aging superhero settles into academia, and a professional "dystopianist" receives a visit from a suicidal sheep. contains eleven fantastical, amusing, and moving stories written in a dizzying array of styles that shows the remarkable range and power of Lethem's vision. Sometimes firmly grounded in reality, and other times spinning off into utterly original imaginary worlds, this book brings together marvelous characters with incisive social commentary and thought provoking allegories.
A visionary and creative collection that only Jonathan Lethem could have produced, the Vintage edition features two stories not published in the hardcover edition, "The Shape We're In" and "Interview with the Crab.
Jonathan Lethem stretches new literary muscles in this scintillating new collection of stories. Some of these tales — such as "Pending Vegan," which wonderfully captures a parental ache and anguish during a family visit to an aquatic theme park — are, in Lethem's words, "obedient (at least outwardly) to realism." Others, like "The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear,", which deftly and hilariously captures the solipsism of blog culture, feature "the uncanny and surreal elements that still sometimes erupt in my short stories."
The tension between these two approaches, and the way they inform each other, increase the reader's surprise and delight as one realizes how cleverly Lethem is playing with form. Devoted fans of Lethem will recognize familiar themes and tropes — the anxiety of influence pushed to reduction ad absurdum in "The King of Sentences"; a hapless outsider trying to summon up bravado in "The Porn Critic;" characters from the comics stranded on a desert island; the necessity and the impossibility of action against authority in "Procedure in Plain Air."
As always, Lethem's work, humor, and poignancy work in harmony; people strive desperately for connection through words and often misdirect deeds; and the sentences are glorious.
The acclaimed author of and returns with a roar with this gorgeous, searing portrayal of Manhattanites wrapped in their own delusions, desires, and lies.
Chase Insteadman, a handsome, inoffensive fixture on Manhattan's social scene, lives off residuals earned as a child star on a beloved sitcom called . Chase owes his current social cachet to an ongoing tragedy much covered in the tabloids: His teenage sweetheart and fiancée, Janice Trumbull, is trapped by a layer of low-orbit mines on the International Space Station, from which she sends him rapturous and heartbreaking love letters. Like Janice, Chase is adrift, she in Earth's stratosphere, he in a vague routine punctuated by Upper East Side dinner parties.
Into Chase's cloistered city enters Perkus Tooth, a wall-eyed free-range pop critic whose soaring conspiratorial riffs are fueled by high-grade marijuana, mammoth cheeseburgers, and a desperate ache for meaning. Perkus's countercultural savvy and voracious paranoia draw Chase into another Manhattan, where questions of what is real, what is fake, and who is complicit take on a life-shattering urgency. Along with Oona Laszlo, a self-loathing ghostwriter, and Richard Abneg, a hero of the Tompkins Square Park riot now working as a fixer for the billionaire mayor, Chase and Perkus attempt to unearth the answers to several mysteries that seem to offer that rarest of artifacts on an island where everything can be bought: Truth.
Like Manhattan itself, Jonathan Lethem's masterpiece is beautiful and tawdry, tragic and forgiving, devastating and antic, a stand-in for the whole world and a place utterly unique.
If there still remains any doubt, this novel confirms Lethem's status as the poet of Brooklyn and of motherless boys. Projected through the prism of race relations, black music and pop art, Lethem's stunning, disturbing and authoritatively observed narrative covers three decades of turbulent events on Dean Street, Brooklyn. When Abraham and Rachel Ebdus arrive there in the early 1970s, they are among the first whites to venture into a mainly black neighborhood that is just beginning to be called Boerum Hill. Abraham is a painter who abandons his craft to construct tiny, virtually indistinguishable movie frames in which nothing happens. Ex-hippie Rachel, a misguided liberal who will soon abandon her family, insists on sending their son, Dylan, to public school, where he stands out like a white flag. Desperately lonely, regularly attacked and abused by the black kids ("yoked," in the parlance), Dylan is saved by his unlikely friendship with his neighbor Mingus Rude, the son of a once-famous black singer, Barnett Rude Jr., who is now into cocaine and rage at the world. The story of Dylan and Mingus, both motherless boys, is one of loyalty and betrayal, and eventually different paths in life. Dylan will become a music journalist, and Mingus, for all his intelligence, kindness, verbal virtuosity and courage, will wind up behind bars. Meanwhile, the plot manages to encompass pop music from punk rock to rap, avant-garde art, graffiti, drug use, gentrification, the New York prison system-and to sing a vibrant, sometimes heartbreaking ballad of Brooklyn throughout. Lethem seems to have devoured the '70s, '80s and '90s-inhaled them whole-and he reproduces them faithfully on the page, in prose as supple as silk and as bright, explosive and illuminating as fireworks. Scary and funny and seriously surreal, the novel hurtles on a trajectory that feels inevitable. By the time Dylan begins to break out of the fortress of solitude that has been his life, readers have shared his pain and understood his dreams.