lukas, May 12, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
Before he was a much acclaimed (some might say too acclaimed) novelist, Jonathan Lethem made his debut with a curious hardboiled detective/sci-fi hybrid that was put out by genre publisher Tor, replete with a terrible cover designed to turn off "serious readers." Many reviewers called a mix between Raymond Chandler and P.K. Dick. Lethem was the editor on Library of America's hardcover reissue of some of Dick's best novels and this is both a homage to and parody of Dick, even down to the silly character names. As a huge Dick fan, I was looking forward to this, but found it dull, shallow and self-conscious. He may appreciate sci-fi, but he can't write it. Oh, there is a kangaroo.
Shoshana, December 28, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
It has a kangaroo walking into a bar, see? This was Lethem's first novel and it's just as confident and sharp as the rest. A dystopian noir detective novel of the future, Gun, with Occasional Music hits its tone well and sustains it evenly throughout. Some detail (including the occasional music of the title) is not as well-developed as I'd have liked. The plot develops in the Fahrenheit 451-A Scanner Darkly range, plus the expected Chandler-Hammett twists and complications. The final conceit is a little simplistic and not nearly as effective as the narrator (and perhaps author) seem to think, but if that doesn't bother readers of McCarthy's The Road, neither should it trouble Lethem's fans. If you're planning to read both, read The Yiddish Policeman's Union before this; otherwise, Chabon will be too depressing by comparison.
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Tor Books -
by Library Journal,
"Spare prose and tight plotting create a taut sf thriller that should appeal to both sf and mystery fans."
"Wild, postmodern, and funny... the acclaimed debut of a major new voice... a dazzling debut"
Conrad Metcalf has problems. He has a monkey on his back, a rabbit in his waiting room, and a trigger-happy kangaroo on his tail. (Maybe evolution therapy is not such a good idea.)
He's been shadowing Celeste, the wife of an affluent Oakland urologist. Maybe falling in love with her a little at the same time. When the doctor turns up dead, Metcalf finds himself caught in a crossfire between the boys from the inquisitor's Office and the gangsters in the back room of the Fickle Muse.
Jonathan Lethem's first novel is a science fiction mystery. It's funny. It's not so funny.
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