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The Fortress of Solitudeby Jonathan Lethem
"There is a genuine atmosphere of cognitive novelty; Lethem manages to combine childish innocence and adult knowingness (not just childish knowingness) in ways that ought to fail but invariably delight and intrigue.
And Lethem delights and intrigues in the end because, while a perfectly adept theorizer, he is a much better painter. His street scenes, his pictures from childhood, have a true coloration; they are drawn, not just spoken....Alas, the thirtysomething Dylan turns out to be a vague character; he talks like Lethem's prose, which is pleasant when the prose is good, but is hardly very distinguishing....It as if the delicate balance of the novel's earlier style has been turned inside out." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the prize-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn, a daring, riotous, sweeping novel that spins the tale of two friends and their adventures in late 20th-century America. This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They live in Brooklyn and are friends and neighbours; but since Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple.
This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the simplest decisions - what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money - are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is also the story of 1990s America, when nobody cared anymore.
This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: they would screw up their lives.
"Lethem has done a number of things here, any one of which is impossible for any but the very finest novelists. He has vividly and lovingly and truthfully, through thrilling evocation of its music, its popular culture, its street games, argot, pharmacology, social mores and racial politics, recreated a world, a moment in history that I would have thought lost and irrecoverable. He has created, in young Dylan, a genuine literary hero. He has reinvented and reinvigorated the myths of the superhero, of black-white relations, of New York City itself. But most of all, from my point of view, he captures precisely — as only a great novelist can — how it feels to love the world that is, on a daily basis, kicking your ass." Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys
The Fortress of Solitude is the story of Dylan Ebdus growing up white and motherless in downtown Brooklyn in the 1970s. It's a neighborhood where the entertainments include muggings along with games of stoopball. In that world, Dylan has one friend, a black teenager, also motherless, named Mingus Rude. As Lethem follows the knitting and unraveling of their friendship, he creates an overwhelmingly rich and emotionally gripping canvas of race and class, superheros, gentrification, funk, hip-hop, graffiti tagging, loyalty, and memory. The Fortress of Solitude is the first great urban coming of age novel to appear in years.
From the funked-up, messed-up Brookyn of the 1970s to the present day, this stunning novel spans thirty years in the life of two best friends, their families and an entire neighbourhood. From their stories comes the history of soul music, graffiti art, comic books, experimental film and 'rock writing'. A touching and intimate novel on an epic scale.
About the Author
Jonathan Lethem is the author of five novels, including Gun, With Occasion Music, and Girl in Landscape. His most recent, Motherless Brooklyn, was named Novel of the Year by Esquire and won The National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award. He is also the author of the story collection, The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye and the novella This Shape We?re In. He edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, guest-edited The Year?s Best Music Writing 2002, and was the founding fiction editor of Fence Magazine. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney?s, and many other periodicals. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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