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Motherless Brooklyn Paperback – October 24, 2000
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This brilliant sentence and a lot of other really excellent ones compose Lethem's engaging fifth novel, Motherless Brooklyn. Lionel Essrog, a detective suffering from Tourette's syndrome, spins the narrative as he tracks down the killer of his boss, Frank Minna. Minna enlisted Lionel and his friends when they were teenagers living at Saint Vincent's Home for Boys, ostensibly to perform odd jobs (we're talking very odd) and over the years trained them to become a team of investigators. The Minna men face their most daunting case when they find their mentor in a Dumpster bleeding from stab wounds delivered by an assailant whose identity he refuses to reveal--even while he's dying on the way to the hospital.
Detectives? Brooklyn? Is this the same Lethem who danced the postapocalypso in Amnesia Moon? Incredibly, yes, and rarely has such a departure been pulled off with this much aplomb. As in the "toothbrush" passage above, Lethem sets himself up with the imposing task of making tired conventions new. Brooklyn accents? Fuggetaboutit. Lethem's dialogue is as light on its feet as a prize fighter. Lionel's Tourette's could have been an easy joke, but Lethem probes so convincingly into the disorder that you feel simultaneously rattled, sympathetic, and irritated by the guy. Sure, the story is a mystery, but Motherless Brooklyn could be about flower arranging, for all we care. What counts is Lionel's tic-ridden take on a world full of surprises, propelling this fiction forward at edgy, breakneck speed. --Ryan Boudinot --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
He is the author of seven novels including Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which was named Novel of the Year by Esquire and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award, as well as the Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger.
He has also written two short story collections, a novella and a collection of essays, edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, guest-edited The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, and was the founding fiction editor of Fence magazine.
His writings have appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney's and many other periodicals.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Top Customer Reviews
When his father figure is murdered in the street, Lionel is the only one of the four no-longer-boys with the intellect, loyalty, and determination to find out what really happened.
Previously a science fiction author, in this book, Lethem takes off into reality like a rocket. The only alien landscape we view here is the inside of the Tourette-inflicted mind, and Lionel is as alien as it gets. But his tics and hollers are the fuller realizations of our own small compulsions and fascinations. They bring the reader right into his mind and body. Despite the pace of the action, and constant plot twists and developments (he tells this story walking, alright) his is an internal journey, and very human.
This is an absolutely riveting good book.
Lethem is an adroit writer. Almost every sentence is a gem. I rarely feel this way about authors -- probably the last time I did was when I read Michael Cunningham's The Hours -- but I savored Lethem's paragraphs. This is not a book to skim.
Of course, the book held other fascination for me as well: I grew up in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn that Lethem did (his sister and I went to the same grammar school) and seeing the neighborhood through his eyes is a treat. But you needn't be from South Brooklyn (or New York at all) to enjoy this novel. The mystery itself -- and the antagonists in the plot -- are reminiscent of Raymond Chandler or Daschiell Hammett: drawn in bold, black strokes with a surrounding aura of cigarette smoke and the smell of whiskey.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing, unusual book, genre bending and fresh. Language is used in very new ways. Highly recommendedPublished 5 days ago by michael
This is one of my favorite books and bonus it accurately portrays Tourette'sPublished 1 month ago by Cupcake Engineer
Please re-release Steve Buscemi's reading! I listened to an old cassette and looked for CD. He has a perfect tone for Lionel and for the other characters. No one else comes close. Read morePublished 2 months ago by genevieve
Don't think twice. Read this book! Wonderfully narrated by a man with a tic who will take you into his Tourette Syndrome mind as he struggles to find the truth after his mentor &... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Using Tourettes as a literary vehicle was clever for the first 100 pages. . .Then the whole 'what actually happened' gets told to us in about 2 pages near the end. Run out of ink? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Scott Welty
BRILLIANT BOOK. I read it years ago when it first came out, and bought this copy for a friend.Published 5 months ago by Paloma Reads