Jump to content


Photo

Jonatham Lethem


  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#21 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 04 December 2010 - 09:16 PM

Lethem's They Live gets reviewed by Dave Kehr in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

I had to order the book. Hope I actually read it!

Edited by Christian, 04 December 2010 - 09:29 PM.


#22 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:12 PM

Slate chooses They Live as one of the the year's best books (last item on the page).

#23 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:10 PM

Slate chooses They Live as one of the the year's best books (last item on the page).

And now, an excerpt from Letham's They Live.

I can't say I dwelled (dwelt?) on the book too long, but I did read it, enjoyed it, and am grateful to it and its author for causing me to take another look at Carpenter's film.

#24 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 09:04 PM

The "Deep Focus" book series, which launched with Letham's They Live, branches out:

Joining Lethem's book last fall was another surprising piece of pop scholarship: Christopher Sorrentino's take on "Death Wish," the Charles Bronson vehicle from 1974. ...

Now four more "Deep Focus" titles are on the way: Josh Wilker's "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training," Matthew Specktor's "The Sting," John Ross Bowie's "Heathers," and Chris Ryan's "Lethal Weapon."


The article's author adds, FWIW: "There's a bit of a pattern here: So far the series seems, well, focused on the reactions of white American men born in the '60s and '70s to movies they first saw between the ages of 9 and 25, give or take."

#25 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 16,802 posts

Posted 07 November 2011 - 05:19 PM

Jonathan Lethem on being reviewed by James Wood:

“Strangely enough, another misrepresentation, made passingly, stuck worse in my craw. Wood complained of the book’s protagonist: “We never see him thinking an abstract thought, or reading a book … or thinking about God and the meaning of life, or growing up in any of the conventional mental ways of the teenage Bildungsroman.” Now this, friends, is how you send an author scurrying back to his own pages, to be certain he isn’t going mad. I wasn’t. My huffy, bruised, two-page letter to Wood detailed the fifteen or twenty most obvious, most unmissable instances of my primary character’s reading: Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, Mad magazine, as well as endless scenes of looking at comic books. Never mind the obsessive parsing of LP liner notes, or first-person narration which included moments like: “I read Peter Guralnick and Charlie Gillett and Greg Shaw…” That my novel took as one of its key subjects the seduction, and risk, of reading the lives around you as if they were an epic cartoon or frieze, not something in which you were yourself implicated, I couldn’t demand Wood observe. But not reading? This enraged me.”


To which Alan Jacobs responds:

Lethem is going to get hammered for writing this — He’s showing his insecurities, he’s indulging his petty resentments, doesn’t he know that this only makes the critics want to trash him? — but I think he’s doing the right thing. Wood is a tremendously insightful critic, and a major stylist, but here is a case in which he says things that are manifestly not true in an attempt to discredit someone’s book. Those of us who write reviews are not obliged to like anything, and we can be as fiercely critical as we believe necessary, but we have an obligation to get our facts right. Wood really should apologize to Lethem and issue a correction, but that obviously isn’t going to happen.


Edited by Overstreet, 07 November 2011 - 05:20 PM.


#26 J. Henry Waugh

J. Henry Waugh

    A Real Reactionary

  • Member
  • 300 posts

Posted 11 November 2011 - 02:51 PM

Here is another view of this: http://www.theawl.co...lt-is-it-anyway

If I had a dog in this fight, it would be Lethem, as I'll read anything he publishes without question. But I have received so many great book suggestions from Wood, that I feel some urge to defend him too.

#27 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:15 PM

Jonathan Lethem on being reviewed by James Wood:


Here is another view of this: http://www.theawl.co...lt-is-it-anyway

Gosh, I'd forgotten all about this controversy, but suppose I'll revisit it when I get to The Ecstacy of Influence, about which I've heard great things and which is awaiting my completion of Chronic City. I don't much care for the latter, but this is my second attempt at it, and I'm going to polish it off. I'm nearly finished with, although I lost interest in the story about a third of the way through the novel.

But the reason I came here tonight is to highlight Lethem's story in the latest New Yorker. The title concerns me, but I guess I'll dive in and see what the author has come up with.

EDIT: Oh, and one other thing related to previous posts in this thread. I was going to post in the "Zona" thread that I received my copy today of Geoff Dyer's latest book, but then I decided to wait until I had something to say about the book, until I'd read some of it. The only thing I've read so far is the back of the dust jacket, which consists only of a laudatory quote about Dyer's other books. And from whose work is that quote pulled? From a New Yorker article by ... James Wood!

Edited by Christian, 04 April 2012 - 09:20 PM.


#28 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 19 May 2012 - 08:41 PM

My progress has been slowed on The Ecstacy of Influence, but I got in some good listening today while spreading mulch for an hour. The story from the collection that captivated me is "Being James Brown," published in Rolling Stone in 2006, and available online here for anyone who's interested. http://www.rollingst...-story-20101224

Excerpt:

So, the James Brown statue may seem to have walked on its flat bronze feet the mile from Twiggs to Broad, to which it keeps its back, reserving its grin for the gentlefolk on and across Broad Street, the side that gives way to the river — the white neighborhoods to which James Brown, as a shoeshine boy, hustler, juvenile delinquent, possibly even as a teenage pimp, directed his ambition and guile. Policemen regularly chased James Brown the length of that mile, back toward Twiggs — he tells stories of diving into a watery gutter, barely more than a trench, and hiding underwater with an upraised reed for breathing while the policemen rumbled past — and, once the chase was over, he'd creep again toward Broad, where the lights and music were, where the action was, where Augusta's stationed soldiers with their monthly paycheck binges were to be found. Eventually, the city of Augusta jailed the teenager, sentenced him to eight-to-sixteen for four counts of breaking and entering. When he attained an early release, with the support of the family of his friend and future bandmate Bobby Byrd, it was on the condition that he never return to Augusta. Deep into the Sixties, years past "Papa's Brand New Bag," James Brown had to apply for spu permits to bring his band to perform in Augusta; he esentially had been exiled from the city for having the dacity to transverse that mile from Twiggs to Broad. Now his statue stands at the end of the mile, facing away. Grinning. Resolving nothing. James Brown, you see, may in fact be less a statue than any human being who ever lived. James Brown is kinetic; an idea, a problem, a genre, a concept, a method — anything, really, but a statue.

That is beautiful.

Edited by Christian, 19 May 2012 - 08:43 PM.


#29 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

Bumping this because J. Henry Waugh has posted that he recently read The Ecstasy of Influence. I see above that I didn't have too much to say here about the audio version I listened to, but when I saw J. Henry's mention, it made me smile and think happy thoughts. Which means I must have liked the Lethem collection to some extent.


Edited by Christian, 08 March 2014 - 03:23 PM.


#30 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:00 PM

Am I going to have to go first on Dissident Gardens? Because I will. Just not yet. Not. Quite. Yet. (I'm bursting to talk about the novel, but I'm very early in it.)



#31 J. Henry Waugh

J. Henry Waugh

    A Real Reactionary

  • Member
  • 300 posts

Posted 07 March 2014 - 04:58 PM

I listened to the audiobook last fall and enjoyed it, particularly everything involving Rose (the narrator got her perfectly, particularly her love of Carl Sandburg's Lincoln). The cousin Lenny baseball section and the game show set piece stand out as well.

 

Books like Dissident Gardens, Freedom, Telegraph Avenue certainly occupy a genre for me in that I come to them with expecting certain beats and I tend to like them best when they bring the humor.



#32 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,476 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 03:24 PM

Yeah, I'm just passing through the Lenny baseball section, although I had kids in the car complaining that I wasn't playing music while I tried to make sure they didn't hear any language or passages that were age-inappropriate. I failed in that, of course.