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Jonathan Lethem: My Egyptian Cousin, 12 December 2002

... remember him visiting our house in Brooklyn as early as 1971, and then more clearly still at Lethem family reunions held at various sites in Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri on through the 1970s. I understood his place in my life, and in my family, through a lens of ‘1960s consciousness’ inherited from my parents. This inheritance was effortless ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey, 6 June 2002

directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... An overnight success in the making for nearly forty years, Spider-Man had been in the making in the mind of the child sitting behind me (at an 11 o’clock show at a multiplex in Brooklyn on 3 May, the earliest possible viewing for a member of the general public) for several months before the film’s opening, at least. Perhaps six years old, the child showed in its involuntarily murmured comments a burnished precognition of the film’s various plot points, key character arcs, and, at least once, of a precise line of dialogue ...


Jonathan Lethem: Theatre of Injury, 15 December 2016

... I write​ out of disarray, from a field of compatriots in disarray. We’re drifting like astronauts, distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making everyone sick, and bipolar./i feel like I am so incredibly ill-equipped to deal with any of this./i’m taking blind advice from all comers without feeling like anything is remotely adequate ...


Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years, 15 April 2004

... In the mid-1970s I had two friends who were into Marvel comics. Karl, whose parents were divorced, and Luke, whose parents were among the most stable I knew. My parents were something between: separated, or separating, sometimes living together and sometimes apart, and each of them with lovers.Luke had an older brother, Peter, whom both Luke and I idealised in absentia ...

My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

... June​ 1978. A boy and his grandmother travelled on the A train to the New York Coliseum at Columbus Circle. She was a trustee of the Queensboro Public Library, with comp tickets for a regional conference of the American Library Association; he was a 15-year-old science fiction fan.The convention hall’s exhibition booths featured lots of plastic slipcovers and display racks, as well as tables full of books from publishers that relied on library sales ...

But this is fateful!

Theo Tait: Jonathan Lethem, 16 March 2017

The Blot: A Novel 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 289 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 10148 6
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The Blot 
by Jonathan Lethem and Laurence Rickels.
Anti-Oedipus, 88 pp., £6.99, September 2016, 978 0 9905733 7 1
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... Trying to make sense​ of Jonathan Lethem’s fiction as a whole is something of a fool’s errand: there is no easily discernible line from the early hipster science fiction to his big-selling detective story Motherless Brooklyn (1999), to his Cobble Hill coming-of-age novel The Fortress of Solitude (2003) to his intricate, ironic New York Buddenbrooks, Dissident Gardens (2013 ...

White Boy Walking

Evan Hughes: Jonathan Lethem, 5 July 2007

You Don’t Love Me Yet 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, May 2007, 978 0 571 23562 9
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... When Jonathan Lethem was born, in 1964, his mother had dropped out of college and was piercing ears with a pin and ice-cube in Greenwich Village, where she ran with a crowd of folksingers including Tuli Kupferberg, Dave Van Ronk and Phil Ochs. His father, in an early phase of his career as an artist, was painting basketball hoops, vices and stereopticons ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... men of the same generation, born in the mid to late 1960s – are Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz and Jonathan Lethem. The books they wrote were interested in popular culture or counterculture as much as in the thoughts and passions of characters. Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) chronicled the rise of superhero comics in postwar ...

Wear flames in your hair

William Skidelsky: Jonathan Lethem and back-street superheroes, 24 June 2004

The Fortress of Solitude 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 511 pp., £12.99, January 2004, 0 571 21933 0
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... Jonathan Lethem’s novels tend to be fusions of genres. As She Climbed across the Table (1997) is a science-fiction campus novel; Girl in Landscape (1998) an SF western. Gun, with Occasional Music (1994), his first novel, is a detective story set in a dystopian future. Narcotics are doled out by the state, and knowledge of the past has been eradicated ...

On the Make

Thomas Jones: Jonathan Lethem, 6 September 2001

Gun, with Occasional Music 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 262 pp., £5.99, August 2001, 0 571 20959 9
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... Jonathan Lethem’s first novel is set at an indeterminate time in the not too distant future. The United States – and possibly the whole world – is now run by the Inquisition, also known as the Office. You need a licence to ask questions. Everyone has to carry a card which registers how much ‘karma’ they have: the level can be increased or reduced at the discretion of an Office inquisitor – once it drops below zero, you’re taken off to the deep freeze ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Matrix, 22 May 2003

... boy who lived down the road. A Galaxy Not So Far Away opens with a brilliant and sad essay by Jonathan Lethem, called ‘13, 1977, 21’, about how he went to see Star Wars 21 times in the summer of 1977 (he was 13), when his mother was gravely ill. ‘I think I came to hate a lot of the film,’ he writes, ‘but I couldn’t permit myself to know ...

A Kind of Gnawing Offness

David Haglund: Tao Lin, 21 October 2010

Richard Yates 
by Tao Lin.
Melville House, 206 pp., £10.99, October 2010, 978 1 935554 15 8
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... or as Lorrie Moore uses Mother and Baby in ‘People like That Are the Only People Here’. Jonathan Lethem has said that ‘strange character names are an easy way to make sure the reader feels, at the deepest level, they’re entering a propositional space where they have to suspend some of their reading protocols and suspend disbelief and make ...


Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers, 8 August 2013

edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... Chinese whispers, we might think of the Surrealist pastime Cadavre exquis, and within the book Jonathan and Mara Faye Lethem mention Telephone, which ‘dredges up memories of Brooklyn basements in the 1970s, clammy ears and unspoken crushes’. They also direct us to Wikipedia, which says that versions of the game are ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Spider-Man 3’, 24 May 2007

Spider-Man 3 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2007
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... not as if he believes in them but as if he knows that everything means something to somebody. Jonathan Lethem, writing about Spider-Man in these pages, reported on the child in the cinema who murmured, as Peter misses the school bus in the opening scene, ‘It’s always like that for him,’ and this catches precisely the feeling Maguire ...

Desk Job

Deborah Friedell: Bernard Malamud, 15 November 2007

Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life 
by Philip Davis.
Oxford, 377 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 0 19 927009 5
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... years, Malamud has been championed by a new generation of Jewish-American writers. Dara Horn, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Lethem and Jonathan Rosen have all written loving introductions to his novels, and sometimes it seems that what they most admire about them is all the ...

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