- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 271 pages
- Publisher: Harvest Books; First edition (September 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156028972
- ISBN-13: 978-0156028974
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 121 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gun, with Occasional Music (Harvest Book) Paperback – September 1, 2003
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"Marries Chandler's style and Philip K. Dick's vision . . . An audaciously assured first novel."-Newsweek
"Marvelous . . . Stylish, intelligent, darkly humorous and highly readable entertainment."-San Francisco Examiner
PRAISE FOR MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
"The best novel of the year . . . Utterly original and deeply moving."-Esquire
"Philip Marlowe would blush. And tip his fedora."-Newsweek
From the Back Cover
a wry, satiric parable of a hardboiled man out of time
Gumshoe Conrad Metcalf has problems-not the least of which are the
rabbit in his waiting room and the trigger-happy kangaroo on his tail.
Near-future Oakland is an ominous place where evolved animals function
as members of society, the police monitor citizens by their karma levels, and
mind-numbing drugs such as Forgettol and Acceptol are all the rage. In this
brave new world, Metcalf has been shadowing the wife of an affluent doctor,
perhaps falling a little in love with her at the same time. But when the
doctor turns up dead, our amiable investigator finds himself caught in the
crossfire in a futuristic world that is both funny-and not so funny.
"Marvelous . . . Stylish, intelligent, darkly humorous, and highly
readable entertainment."-SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
"Lethem has talent to burn."-THE VILLAGE VOICE LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
AUTHOR OF THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE
Jonathan Lethem is the author of six novels, including
National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Motherless Brooklyn
and The Fortress of Solitude. He lives in New York City.
Top customer reviews
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A hard-boiled detective addicted to dope and flowery metaphors goes up against the institutional cops to solve a murder. And there's a kangaroo with a gun. And a house that's a hologram. And people getting frozen (think Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back). But before you stop, the beauty of Lethem's novel is that it doesn't feel like science fiction. It feels like a captivating crime noir novel. The reason is that Lethem reels you in at the first pages with the story and the character, and only bit by bit, over time, do you realize that the world is different from our own (right now). (One problem with much science fiction and fantasy is that it requires such a massive investment to start the book: the planet of what? the what-reorganizing matter machine? huh?) And the science fiction elements all feel relevant: the walking, talking animals are the result of artificial evolution processes, and everyone is taking to dope to forget their lives (think a gritty Brave New World). The crime story itself has the requisite zillion twists and turns, and Lethem leads us right up to an impressively surprising finale.
Note: Lots of strong language, a fair amount of violent, and some sexual content.
Lethem's novel itself is fascinating. His prose already in this first novel is beyond accomplished - perfect flow and beautiful language. Especially for people who know the Bay Area, many interesting areas are described - from Oakland to El Cerrito, rather than the standard San Francisco. However, this first novel feels a bit too close to Philip K Dick's world (Lethem's idol). Feels like a belated PKD novel rather than something truly new for the 1990s. Also, there is a bit too much noir and not enough science fiction (at least for sci-fi fans); some fascinating ideas like the advancement of animals, freezing of bodies in prison, new uses of drugs, but I wished to know more about the new world. Then again, this first novel is worlds better than PKD's first novel.
The best way to read the book: a reversal of PKD's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." Instead of mechanical animals, we have evolved animals. Instead of chickenheads, we have babyheads. The drug use and regulation is here taken to new dimensions of regulation and insanity. And instead of a bounty hunter, Deckard, we have... well, Metcalf, whose nickname is "Dickface," perhaps an ironic reference to PKD.