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You Don't Love Me Yet: A Novel Hardcover – March 13, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038551218X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385512183
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,849,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

With his sixth novel, You Don't Love Me Yet, Jonathan Lethem continues to show off his dexterity with the form, following up the coming-of-age epic The Fortress of Solitude with a dreamlike, comic portrait of the Los Angeles art scene. Lethem craftily sets up his ruse with a letter of complaint from Falmouth Strand (a seemingly minor character) who warns us that the book we are about to read completely misrepresents the truth. Falmouth is a former installation artist who has turned from sculpting objects to "manipulating people's despair, pensiveness, ennui." For his latest project, he has posted signs around Los Angeles: "Complaints? Call 213 291 7778." The novel centers around Lucinda (the perfect, unwitting instrument for Falmouth's manipulation), a bass player in a would-be indie rock quartet with nearly enough good songs for a 35-minute set (if you don't count the two they don't like anymore). Lucinda has vowed to stop sleeping with the band's lead singer Matthew (for real, this time), launching a search for true love as drunken and misguided as the band's search for a decent name. She abandons her upscale barista gig to answer complaint calls for Falmouth's conceptual art piece. Before long, she finds herself drawn to a regular whose curious words are "like a pulse detected in a vast dead carcass" of daily complaints. By way of Lucinda, the "genius" complainer's words spark the band's next song, setting them on a shaky upward trajectory all too familiar in the art world. Various characters want (or don't want) to take credit for the song's apparent success, but who deserves it? The complainer who nonchalantly rattled off the words, Lucinda who wrote them down, the remaining band members who collaboratively put them to music, or Falmouth himself, who passively engineered the whole thing?

Fans of Fortress and Motherless Brooklyn may find this novel's levity too drastic a shift, but even though Lethem is having a great time here with wordplay, a motley cast, and Lucinda's sexual meanderings, You Don't Love Me Yet is anything but a simple entertainment. He plays with our notions of art and authorship, enjoying a bit of advanced cribbery himself as he experiments with Shakespearean antics and inexplicable love match-ups. At every turn, Lethem seems to be asking sticky questions: Can anyone create the consummate intersection of dream, desire, and reality that art (and great sex) embodies? Will it last, and should it? Can any one writer capture that moment with a few meager words? If they did, how long would it take for it to be reduced to meaningless slogan? --Heidi Broadhead

From Publishers Weekly

Lethem (Fortress of Solitude; Motherless Brooklyn; etc.) strays from hometown Brooklyn to recount the near-fame experience of a Los Angeles alternative rock band. Its success depends on bass guitarist Lucinda Hoekke, an unwitting femme fatale whose irrational whims torture the artsy Gen-Xers in her orbit. When the novel opens, she's answering phones for a complaint line designed to also function as a "theatrical piece" and is charmed by the eloquent gripes of one serial caller, a professional phrase writer named Carl. (He's responsible for coining "All thinking is wishful," among others.) They embark on a sex-drenched bender that culminates with the band's debut performance—a breakout success. Lucinda is the band's "secret genius," having provided the ideas for the catchiest songs; only she cribbed them from Carl, whose cooperation must be purchased with a token position in the band. Zany disaster ensues in this entertaining but largely insubstantial romantic farce. Lethem tricks out the plot with his usual social wit (music moguls are "unyouthful men in youthful clothes"), but from a writer whose previous books have carved new notches on the literary wall, this measures up as stunted growth. (Mar. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Jonathan Lethem was born in New York and attended Bennington College.

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.

Customer Reviews

The plot and characters are contrived and ridiculous.
I found it hard to like the characters, which I realize might have been the intention of the author, but I also found that I did not really care what happened to them.
M. Campbell
It was the genius of experimentation that sometimes didn't work but when it did it REALLY did.
Shane Tiernan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a more modest work than Fortress of Solitude or Motherless Brooklyn. It depicts a world much like the one seen in the long-running television show: Friends. The four band members have no spouses or children and little commitment to mostly meaningless jobs. They all get along and surmount the minor challenges posed by their lives. A break-up in one relationship leads not to heartbreak but to another partner in short order. Band member Matthew kidnaps a kangaroo from his job at the zoo but is allowed to return, animal in hand, to resume work with no harm and no foul.

The main character appreciates this existance. She prefers her friends to be "benign, enchanted and fond." Band members, Lucinda says, are "the dreamers, the fools, her only friends." She is 29, however, and recognizes at books end that she and Matthew are on the verge of "the true complete lives in which they would at last drown, the oceanic voyage into their thirties and beyond, through which their inchoate yearnings would be either soothed or disappointed, or both."

This book is fun to read in the same way Friends is enjoyable to watch. We enter a world of youth, absent of responsibilities and pain, in which we are led to believe everything will work out as we hope or the rough equivalent. Lethem tells us through Lucinda that "the answer to any remaining question was yes." She leaves hesitation behind and opens herself and her friends to wild magic in the form of the The Complainer. This encounter leaves band members changed and undamaged; safely deposited back where they began.

Perhaps referring to himself, Lethem has the only true artist in the book describe his role in this way: "I want what we all want...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hank Schwab on April 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
3 stars seems about right. "Fortress of Solitude" was magnificent, although it was geared toward an audience of a particular age, that would get all the cultural references. The new novel also is based largely on Lethem's love of music, and tries to delve into the creative process. However, he doesn't quite make it. None of it really seems to add up to anything particularly grand or meaningful. As one example, there is a subplot with a kidnapped kangaroo that Lethem seems to tire of, and just let go. This seems like something unfinished that he thought, "Oh well, let's just publish this and move on." Interesting enough, but don't expect to be wowed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Dissipated Monk on July 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have read and very much admired most of Jonathan Lethem's work. This book made me feel that the whole notion of a rock band is sunsetting, a relic of the late 20th Century, now slipping over the horizon into the gone world of history. Perhaps that was the intent. A brief summary is really all it takes to do the plot justice. An artist starts a public complaint line as a performance event. One Complainer rises above the pack and seduces a young & quirky rocker chick. For a day job, he fabricates slogans, viral word memes that sound like an unholy cross between Barbara Kruger and Erma Bombeck. The rocker chick & her cute friends in their 20's start a band in L.A., have sex with each other, get drunk, have sex with some other people, write quirky songs, play a loft party, and are somewhat willingly exploited, sexually & perhaps financially, by gray ponytailed, hippie capitalist types. Pace CRASS: so wot?

It's a very slightly diverting romp, with some witty dialogue, but the whole notion of a rock band's glamorous, decadent aura of "cool" is made to seem quite...posthumous, somehow. Like, there's not an original gesture they could make within the trope of "rock & roll," it's all been done before. Accordingly, the band quickly implodes after inspiring a brief frisson of exploitative lust, largely among the aforementioned graying ponytails. Really, on its face, this is an insultingly bad book. But to me it's obvious from his other books that Lethem is a kind of genius. So there has to be more to it than that, a lot more. Maybe this whole thing is a refugee from Lethem's id, a suckerpunch smackdown of the whole big stupid rock & roll thing? Or even a deliberate subversion of the tottering mausoleum of late 20th Century rock'n roll culture? A memorial service for cool?
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is not my favorite of Jonathan Lethem's books. It is principally a slice-of-life story, more marked by a feeling of drift than a clear plot arc. There is such an arc, but since the characters themselves drift the plot seems to do so as well. The characters are well-defined but neither attractive nor engagingly unattractive. They are unanchored bohemians with flashes of intelligence and insight but little of enduring substance. They have no spiritual lives (in either a religious or secular sense) and their thoughts and actions are devoid of any moral urgency. They momentarily titillate, with (some of) their more sexualized behaviors but with the exception of Matthew's sympathies for a depressed kangaroo (so wildly implausible as to stretch and strain genre) there is next to no humanity in the book. There is also very little humor, despite the jacket cover description of the book as a send-up. There is also very little sense of place. The novel could be set anywhere and the notion that it somehow captures the quintessence of the alternative music scene in Los Angeles is decidedly exaggerated.

In short, the book is the absolute opposite of Lethem at the top of his form, as in MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. That is not to suggest that there are not brilliant lines and passages (in addition to sloppy ones, with, for example, unidentified speaking voices), but the book conveys a feeling of general emptiness punctuated by casual sex and occasional cleverness, much of it too clever by half. The characters of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN are very `different' but in engaging and attractive--even beautiful--ways. The characters in YOU DON'T LOVE ME YET are far more familiar. They are the kind of people your mother prays you will never become.
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