Re: RARA-AVIS: Jonathan Lethem

From: Stewart Wilson (
Date: 17 Jan 2004

William Denton wrote:

>I'm rereading it for SF month. So far I'm enjoying much more than I
>remembered liking it the first time. At the time, I thought as I did
>about some other mystery/SF books: the SF was very well done but the
>writer couldn't pull of the mystery side as well.
 GUN is an early novel, and I can forgive the mystery side problems in the same way I've forgiven worse from other first-time novelists
(McGivern, Crais, Block, Wahloo, Rankin to name a few). However, when other novelists might hit their stride by the second or third novel, Lethem moved on to other genres.

>Has anyone else been reading Lethem recently? Looking through the
>archives I see we talked about him on and off in 1999 and 2000, because of
>MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, but not a lot since then.
 I've read all of Lethem's books, with the exception of GIRL IN LANDSCAPE (which came up on the list in the context of plots which resemble the THE SEARCHERS). It seems to me that Lethem doesn't get too much discussion here because although MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN and GUN both fit within genre limits of the group, he doesn't embrace the genre. Even BROOKLYN is mostly about the main characters growth, and the mystery takes a back seat. A full third of the book is devoted to the protagonist's childhood.

 As Mr. Lochte noted, there really isn't anything in his latest, FORTRESS, which would qualify for discussion on this list. My guess is that he won't be coming back, but it's always hard to predict what someone will do when they change directions all the time.


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