Yup, I Read Now

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
September 21, 2009, 1:48 am
Filed under: Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude | Tags: ,


This book is, in a word, awesome. In two words, awesome awesome.

I bought it on a lark and really had no business throwing down the $16.41 it cost me (i’m poor), but the back cover was working for me. It’s hard for me to pass up a book where the words “superhero” and “gentrification” are side by side in the little descriptive blurb and the shot of Converse-sneakered Lethem sitting with his legs wide open, his bulge so nonchalantly, perhaps innocently, visible was just so bizarre. I needed to add the book to the stack of yet-to-be-read books in my cluttered (currently weird-smelling) bedroom.

The first 50 pages were a little rough. I found myself in that required-reading trance–kind of reading the words but not really processing anything. This happens with a lot of books, even ones that I’m excited about. But I think a sign of a “good” book is its ability to shake you from that trance–make it impossible for the reader to allow all of the words to blend and blur.

Lethem has a real talent for description, an ability that I, as a lame-o writer covet. But all of that description, as lovely and insightful as it may be, can feel impenetrable–especially right off the bat. When I start a book I think I’m looking for a strong voice or at least some action that will propel me forward. Reading the first page of this book, it isn’t clear who the protagonist is. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I had to readjust my expectations. Once I sort of got a feel for the book, though, it was impossible to put down. I read something like forty pages on the bus to Berkeley and another fifty or so at work.

A full review of the book will follow soon–I’m hoping to finish it up by the end of this week. The new Nick Hornby comes out next week and I want to be free to read that once I (or have someone with more dollars) buy it.


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