Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Summer Reading

My late-night blogging habit has cut down on the time I have available to do other reading, so it has taken me over two months to get through Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. I actually enjoy the reduced pace; reading a page or two per night before retiring. Surely this is the way books were meant to be read, but the frenzied pace inculcated in students by university course loads habituates one to plowing through type like a trucker on a 48-hour speedball marathon plows highway.


I found Motherless Brooklyn, like so many other treasures, at the thrift shop, in amongst a thousand potboilers, it's front cover dog-eared and nearly torn off, but its creamy, delectable innards of type intact. It never fails to amaze me how such priceless riches as a well crafted novel, book of poems or philosophical tract, the recorded texture of the human mind at its very finest hour of operation, can be left to rot amongst quagmires of stillborn plots, anachronistic recipe collections, and yesterday's self-help strategies--then sold for a pittance, for less than the price of a candy bar. But such is the paradoxical nature of commerce, and it works to the advantage of Fakiegrinders like myself, who, if forced to pay the price such books are truly worth, would need to labour several lifetimes just to purchase access to one or two of them.

Over the past year, Lethem has become my new favourite read. His Fortress of Solitude is the first novel I've come across that examines the influence of comic books and hip-hop culture on the life of its protagonists. As She Crawled Across the Table is a funny and poignant look at quantum physics and the absurdities of university life. Amnesia Moon is a fantastical, post-apocalyptic Jonathan Swift type of tale, and probably my favourite of the Lethem books I've read. He just recently released a collection of essays, some excerpts from which were published in The New Yorker not long ago, and these look to be interesting reading as well.

Motherless Brorklyn is about a detective with Trouette's syndrome trying to unravel the mysteries of a recent murder that is intertwined with the character's own unusual past. Without giving away details of the plot, I will quote a paragraph that seemed to be informative of certain insomniac creative processes that sometimes go on here at Fakiegrind Central,

"Insomnia is a vairiant of Tourette's--the waking brain races, sampling the world after the world has turned away, touching it everywhere, refusing to settle, to join the collective nod. The insomniac brain is a sort of conspiracy theorist as well, believing too much in its own paranoiac importance--as though if it were to blink, then doze, the world might be overrun by some encroaching calamity, which its obsessive musings are somehow fending off."

Motherless Brooklyn, Vintage Books, p.246

Motherless Brooklyn is well worth scouring the thrift shops for, or ordering through Amazon if dumpster diving isn't your thing. The book itself is full of dumpsters, steakouts and New York sandwiches, the combination of which is sure to satisfy any Fakiegrinder's apetitie for summer fiction. But don't take my word for it; read the book yourself and tell Fakiegrind what you think.

Click to read Super Goat Man, a short story by Jonathan Lethem from The New Yorker.


Michael said...

Can I suggest a summer read for you? Check out You shall know our velocity by Dave Eggers. I have never read a book twice but I just took it off my shelf to read again. It is a great read.

flatlander said...

Thanks, Michael. I'm in need of a new fiction in which to immerse myself.