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Motherless Brooklyn Paperback – October 24, 2000
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Audio CD, Unabridged
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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.
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
One of the most original books ever. I read it twenty years ago and loved it and just read it again and loved it.Published 5 days ago by Loretta L. Burd
I initially liked the different take on the detective novel and the creative language inspired by the lead character with Tourette's Syndrome, but it did not sustain my interest. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Jason G.
Such an easy book to read. It was a very gripping novel with an interesting array of characters. Being a native of Brooklyn, I will admit that my opinion is a bit biased, but I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lucious Seminole
Just wonderful. The protagonist, Lionel Essrog, is one of the most sympathetic characters I know. The reading is fast, the emotions are full and varied, the mystery is compelling. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Timothy J Attewell
Don't know if I've ever read anything like it -- masterful. I confess that I was completely taken in by the character development at the beginning of the book and less so by the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steve Monosson
A detective with Tourette's? Seriously? Yes, and he is smart, engaging, so human and funny. For the people like me who read one mystery after another it is a pleasure to get... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Catherine Parlapiano
I love this book because it's set in NYC and romanticizes (in the way that makes your mouth water for a pepperoni-and-provolone hero with peppers inside) and villifies Brooklyn at... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Samantha