I had to order the book. Hope I actually read it!
Edited by Christian, 04 December 2010 - 09:29 PM.
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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:10 PM
And now, an excerpt from Letham's They Live.
Slate chooses They Live as one of the the year's best books (last item on the page).
Posted 08 June 2011 - 09:04 PM
Posted 07 November 2011 - 05:19 PM
“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.”
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.
Posted 11 November 2011 - 02:51 PM
Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:15 PM
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.
Here is another view of this: http://www.theawl.co...lt-is-it-anyway
Edited by Christian, 04 April 2012 - 09:20 PM.
Posted 19 May 2012 - 08:41 PM
Edited by Christian, 19 May 2012 - 08:43 PM.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Posted 09 May 2015 - 10:41 AM
I can't believe we never talked about Dissident Gardens after I finished it. I thought we had. Now it's been more than a year -- about 50 books ago, according to my GoodReads timeline -- and I struggle to remember enough details for a lengthy post. But I liked that novel very, very much. It made me think I'll have to read Lethem's future fiction, after having given up on the appeal of anything written by Lethem other than his nonfiction.
It seemed obvious to me at the time that the book was a pretty withering critique of Communism, but I'm not sure others would agree.
I just looked over the book's Wikipedia listing and was drawn to J. Hoberman's review, which captures my own feelings about the novel pretty well.
EDIT: Ah, I did mention is over here, but, again, was only partway through it at the time I posted. I see that J. Henry has posted about it earlier in that same thread, calling it Lethem's best novel. Yes.
Edited by Christian, 09 May 2015 - 10:50 AM.