From Publishers Weekly
Novelist Lethem's new collection of essays starts with an intriguing, if emotionally distant, consideration of his lifelong relationship with popular culture and develops into a moving memoir that transcends those references altogether. As the essays make clear, Lethem (The Fortress of Solitude
) has always been obsessive: he watched Star Wars
21 times the summer it was released, then followed that with 21 viewings of 2001
a few years later; the novels of Philip K. Dick played as large a role in his growing artistic vision as did the canvases of his father, painter Richard Lethem. But the collection doesn't find its purpose until the author strips away the pop culture references to get at what really drives him: the childhood his hippie parents provided for him, his father's artistic influence on him, his mother's early death. The book picks up steam especially in the essay "Lives of the Bohemians," a simple and direct family history in which, for the first time here, Lethem's depiction of himself as a child feels genuine rather than theorized, lived rather than considered. By the end, Lethem fully and beautifully bares himself, admitting that he, like so many, is driven by loss. Only then does he write the truest sentence possible: "I find myself speaking about my mother's death everywhere I go in this world."
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Praise for Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
and The Fortress of Solitude
, for what the Baltimore Sun
deems "a hybrid tour de force." Not only does Lethem display a broad range of cultural and intellectual knowledge; according to the critics hes mastered the art of memoir as well. The book is as heartfelt and self-effacing as it is esoteric. The one negative review seems more of a personal attack on Lethem than a reasoned slice of criticism (Jennifer Autrey writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
, "There are readers who will hang in there with Lethem. I was married to one of them once."). Is there any literary style that can trip Lethem up? Well have to wait for his poetry collection to find out.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.