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Lenny Bruce Is Deadby Jonathan Goldstein
Goldstein, a former fixture on the Montreal spoken word scene, delivers a disjointed blast of fictions (is it a novel, are they "deep thoughts," are they short stories??) with Lenny Bruce is Dead. The bite-sized chapters are full of skewed observations told in a very entertaining style akin to Hal Sirowitz (or as poetically bold as Jeffrey McDaniel) as they chronicle a horny young Jewish man in a world of ambitious failures. Goldstein, who is now a producer for PRI's This American Life, has written a compulsively readable gem and hopefully we'll see more from him in the future.
Synopses & Reviews
At McDonald?s, when I?m throwing out the stuff on my tray, there?s a point where I get scared that my wallet could have been on there, too. I always think, as everything is tumbling into the garbage, that I might have tossed my wallet on the tray and forgotten. It always feels possible.
So begins Jonathan Goldstein?s first novel, Lenny Bruce is Dead. It?s the story of Joshua, a young man who?s uncertain about a lot more than the possible loss of his wallet. He might as well be talking about his whole life. Josh is having a hard time finding his way in the world; deciding on a career and keeping a girlfriend are too much to handle, not to mention the fact that after the death of his mother he has moved back into his childhood suburban home to be with his father, Chick. Oh, and then there?s the arrival of the Moschiach (inventor of the infamous Love Lotion) to further complicate things.
Lenny Bruce Is Dead walks a tightrope between being searingly funny and poignant ? you?ll laugh, you?ll cry, you?ll long for Love Lotion (and a Moschiach of your own). And you won?t forget Josh ? ineptitude, scatological neuroses, urban angst, self-deprecating humour and all.
"Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the 'Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion' that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But 'This American Life' contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ('He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope') and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Josh, the confused, creative, obsessive ladies' man at the center of Lenny Bruce is Dead, is a neurotic antihero as funny and compelling as the ones Mordecai Richler and Philip Roth used to dream up, but funnier and more compelling. With dazzling sentences and deadpan humour, Jonathan Goldstein guides us throught the odd moments and keen observations that make up Josh's gonowhere life: old men at the Burger Zoo demand hardboiled eggs for breakfast and beautiful girls bike through the earlymorning streets of Montreal in their pyjamas, a toothbrush clenched between their teeth. With Lenny Bruce, Goldstein puts the tour back in tour de force." Paul Tough, editor of Open Letters
"This is an assured, completely original debut from a writer to be reckoned with..." Kevin Connolly, eye
"One wishes Lenny Bruce is Dead a long life." Kevin Chong, The National Post
About the Author
Jonathan Goldstein is a native of Montreal. He is currently living in Chicago where he is a producer at public radio's This American Life.
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