Synopses & Reviews
From the incomparable Jonathan Lethem, a raucous romantic farce that explores the paradoxes of love and art.
Lucinda Hoekke spends eight hours a day at the Complaint Line, listening to anonymous callers air their random grievances. Most of the time, the work is excruciatingly tedious. But one frequent caller, who insists on speaking only to Lucinda, captivates her with his off-color ruminations and opaque self-reflections. In blatant defiance of the rules, Lucinda and the Complainer arrange a face-to-face meeting and fall desperately in love.
Consumed by passion, Lucinda manages only to tear herself away from the Complainer to practice with the alternative band in which she plays bass. The lead singer of the band is Matthew, a confused young man who works at the zoo and has kidnapped a kangaroo to save it from ennui. Denise, the drummer, works at No Shame, a masturbation boutique. The band's talented lyricist, Bedwin, conflicted about the group's as-yet-nonexistent fame, is suffering from writer's block. Hoping to recharge the band's creative energy, Lucinda "suggests" some of the Complainer's philosophical musings to Bedwin. When Bedwin transforms them into brilliant songs, the band gets its big break, including an invitation to appear on L.A.'s premiere alternative radio show. The only problem is the Complainer. He insists on joining the band, with disastrous consequences for all.
Brimming with satire and sex, You Don't Love Me Yet is a funny and affectionate send-up of the alternative band scene, the city of Los Angeles, and the entire genre of romantic comedy, but remains unmistakably the work of the inimitable Jonathan Lethem.
"Lethem (Fortress of Solitude; Motherless Brooklyn; etc.) strays from hometown Brooklyn to recount the near-fame experience of a Los Angeles alternative rock band. Its success depends on bass guitarist Lucinda Hoekke, an unwitting femme fatale whose irrational whims torture the artsy Gen-Xers in her orbit. When the novel opens, she's answering phones for a complaint line designed to also function as a 'theatrical piece' and is charmed by the eloquent gripes of one serial caller, a professional phrase writer named Carl. (He's responsible for coining 'All thinking is wishful,' among others.) They embark on a sex-drenched bender that culminates with the band's debut performance a breakout success. Lucinda is the band's 'secret genius,' having provided the ideas for the catchiest songs; only she cribbed them from Carl, whose cooperation must be purchased with a token position in the band. Zany disaster ensues in this entertaining but largely insubstantial romantic farce. Lethem tricks out the plot with his usual social wit (music moguls are 'unyouthful men in youthful clothes'), but from a writer whose previous books have carved new notches on the literary wall, this measures up as stunted growth." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[D]reamily moving....Lethem mixes realism and trippiness, wit and heart....The result is a melancholy comedy of raucous manners. With minor-key brilliance, Lethem describes how alluring pop is crafted in a state of joyous tedium... (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Although it's decidedly lighter in tone than Lethem's more recent novels, with a spry, frolicking rhythm...it's still smart and funny, providing a biting satirical take on the intersection of art and commerce, integrity and facade." Los Angeles Times
"[L]ithe and perceptive but a b-side nonetheless. Comparing this effort to, say, Motherless Brooklyn is like comparing apples to skyscrapers. Lethem's capable of entire skylines, and when was the last time you were really wowed by a piece of fruit?" Booklist
"[A] slight, funny, elegiac Hollywood novel by a writer who refuses to repeat himself....Remember, these people don't go around looking for action. Events just collide with them. That's what makes this goofy, engaging comedy so much fun." Hartford Courant
"Lethem in a minor key. Not without its ridiculous charms, but nothing to sing about either." Kirkus Reviews
"[W]here [Lethem's] extravagant love for New York in Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude was matched by an equally wide-screen scope of narrative, he has shrunk himself to fit the narrower confines of his new book. He is too large a writer to make himself so small." Boston Globe
"Lethem's characters and ideas are made whole with his astonishing gift of language. He plays with it in ways no one else can....[T]his book bares all the markings of a Lethem original, and this uproarious farce could only have come from the mind of one man." Denver Post
"I wish this novel were funny and sexy, and something better than foolish. I wish it were brave." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Lethem's newest is more entertaining romantic caper than daring literature. Recommended." Library Journal
"Lethem is not swinging for the fences here....But 'minor,' when referring to a writer this adventurous and idiosyncratic, need not equate to 'negligible.'...You Don't Love Me Yet, for all its discomfiting, sci-fi aesthetic, is a romantic farce at heart." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"[L]ike the great musicians he admires Bob Dylan, the Talking Heads not everything can be a masterpiece. Now Lethem, too, has his throwaway mess." USA Today
"[A] hilarious romp through the Los Angeles art scene and a shrewd parody of modern love. Though Lethem's reputation is already established, his voice is still so fresh and urgent that you might think you've found a great new talent. In fact, reading You Don't Love Me Yet
is a lot like discovering a band picking up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' first EP, or Radiohead's Pablo Honey
. You'll want to tell your friends to run out and buy the book. When they love it you can take credit for 'discovering' Lethem first." Snowden Wright, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
An employee at The Complaint Line who spends hours listening to anonymous callers air their random grievances, Lucinda Hoekke falls madly in love with one of her frequent callers, but her romance has unexpected complications for Lucinda and her fellow members of an alternative rock band in which she plays bass. 100,000 first printing.
About the Author
Jonathan Lethem is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of two short story collections, Men and Cartoons and The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye, and a collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Maine.