@Download Book ⚣ Chronic City á eBook or E-pub free

My favourite German word is bummel, I also am very fond of the word Schmetterling just becuase it is so very unevocative.At its very best this book is a bummel, defined to copy paste from jerome k jerome A Bummel , I explained, I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started Sometimes it is through busy streets, and sometimes through the fields and lanes sometimes we can be spared for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand We nod and smile to many as we pass with some we stop and talk awhile and with a few we walk a little way We have been much interested, and often a little tired But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when it s over In this book Chase Insteadman, a former child actor who is a very listless man indeed who meets Perkus Tooth a cultural critic and together they smoke enormous amounts of dope, and eat cheesburgers, sometimes by themselves and sometimes with other characters They walk in circles and try and make sense of the manufactured world they live in which is hard because it is manufactured and their roles appear to be randomly predetermined Sometimes the symbolism is very clever and often very funny indeed, especially as New York with all due affection is a wonderfully inward looking self obsessed kind of place.The only issue for me is sometimes your just not in the mood for a bummel, you really dont have time to fully immerse yourself in a gentle stroll or your mind yearns for a straight path up the mountain and down with glow of achievement, at those times this book is a massively irritating story about a bunch neurotic stoners who talk an amazing amount of tosh.So before starting this book I would advise any reader to start off by asking themselves do I want to bummel or do i want to walk. I was enthralled with this strange tour of the dope inspired concerns of a contemporary group of Manhattanites They form a circle of friends around a visionary former rock critic named Perkus Tooth The portrait rendered of New York as a pocket universe for these characters seems like a pleasant cross between the disturbing delusions in novels by Philip K Dick and the fun self fulfilling quests in Vonnegut tales From hybrid vigor, the offspring is satirical but not vicious, solipsistic but not smug, playful not comic Also, the prose is marvelous, the characters warm and human, and the read is easy The key characters are all effectively residual people , each riding a peripheral role depending on past successes or cultural trends set by others For example, Perkus now resorts to writing liner notes for new albums The narrator, Chase Insteadman once misidentified as Unperson , is a former child star of a sit com living off of residuals His semi celebrity status is enhanced from being treated by the media as the faithful, suffering fianc of a woman astronaut Chase barely remembers now, trapped for months in the International Space Station by Chinese sabotage A former prot g of Tooth, Oona Lazlo, is a ghostwriter who creates memories for celebrities who have trouble recounting them Richard Abneg, a former radical tenant s rights advocate, now works for the billionaire mayor as a fix it man such as the smoothing over tenant evictions in redevelopment projects Although they could be considered social parasites, they treat the reality that filters into their cave as a cosmic puzzle for which they have the responsibility to resolve its hidden meanings, linkages, and possible conspiracies Because the novel has a focus on this derivative mode of living, not much happens in terms of conventional plot Aside from a couple of love affairs carried on by Chase and Richard, much of the action lies in the bull sessions with Tooth in his cramped apartment or neighborhood hamburger shop Tooth mesmerized me, a vibrant creation seared into my mind along with the unforgettable fictional Neal Cassidy in Kerouac s On the Road Here is a great example of how his riffs flow like jazz improvisations on a theme Between starved attacks on his bagel, gobbets of pureed fish and mayonnaise dripping from between his fingers, Perkus named Brando as the living avatar of the unexpressed, a human enunciation of the remaining hopes of our murdered era what I have in mind is when he sent Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the Oscar in his place In one gesture Brando ties our rape of the Indians to this figure of our immigrant nightmare, this Sicilian peasant doing the American dream, capitalism I mean, ruthlessly than the founding fathers could ever have dreaded We re as defenseless against what Don Corleone exposes, the murderous underside of Manifest Destiny, as the Indians were against smallpox blankets And in the vanishing space between the two, what America itself, whatever that is Brando, essentially, declining to appear Because the party s over By refusing to show up Brando took on the most magnificent aspect, it s as if Toto sweeps the curtain aside and the great and powerful Oz has absconded, leaving you to contemplate the fact that behind the illusion there s nothing The Oz of American history, for all its monstrousness, is all we ve got The kind of conspiracies Tooth trucks with are typified by his belief that Brando s death was faked That the font choice and framing of the stories in the New Yorker are responsible for tricking the reader into seeing himself in the stories That his obsession with acquiring a new form of exquisite ceramic vases called chaldrons through eBay is being foiled by secret powers that be that are hoarding them for a mysterious purpose The largest plot on his mind is that maybe reality is a simulation for which we might as well go along with which as actually based on a real academic physicist s theory of the multiverse He comes to suspect that the mysterious periodic destructions of parts of the city that are attributed to a giant escaped tiger represent some kind of cover up of something else by the mayor, possibly some sort of slippage in the simulation.Some of Tooth s off the wall speculations seem pushed in jest though he has trouble reading a massive book called Obstinate Dust , which reviewers identify as a stand in for Wallace s Infinite Jest At least his friends sometimes take them that way, as illustrated here in this send up of Manhattan residents sense of living in an island universeCops live in New Jersey, don t they, Richard Jersey, sure, or Staten Island or Hicksville or White Plains, whatever They laugh because they know Know what said Richard warily, sensing the trap What s outside the limit, maybe fallout strewn wasteland or Chinese slave dictatorship, people in cages too small for dogs In that case wouldn t it be sensible to use robot policemen said Richard Robot policemen wouldn t track so much fallout back and forth from Staten Island don t you think And they wouldn t require so many bribes, or toroid pastries In a piece on his web site, Who Is Perkus Tooth, Anyway , Lethem notes that he was derived from an amalgam from several real people, but wouldn t exist without the precedent of the character Rudolph Menthol, from Rufus Firefly s great novel Years Between Islands His fondness for his character seems similar to that he holds for P.K Dick, as explored in his essay Crazy Friend For me, I like helpless braggarts, obsessive fools, angry people My ears perk up at the word pretentious that s usually the movie I want to see, the book I want to read, the scene I want to make Nearly anyone I ve found worth knowing was difficult enough, vivid enough, to qualify at some point as my crazy friend.The essay accounts for Lethem s pervasive influences from Dick His first book, which I enjoyed a lot, Gun, With Occasional Music is described as Dick meets Chandler And his second book, Amnesia Moon, which I didn t love, was expanded from stories written in his early 20 s that show a strong Dickian theme of infiltration of reality by a single sinister and intoxicatingly malignant force Lethem s most popular book, Motherless Brooklyn a 5 star read for me , features mobster Frank Minna, who conforms to a Dickian feature of main characters who are powerful but unsteady father figures men both bullying and charismatic, generous and treacherous Tooth fits this profile too, and the play on the simulated world idea in Chronic City is a clear Dickian influence In an interview with h Magazine Chronic Citizen, Lethem notes that after his efforts at editing a Library of America collection of Dick s works, he wanted to, in some way, project a relationship to Dick s writing I wanted to find a way to extend my own feelings about it into fictional space For me, this is a book that s suffused in his influence Despite all this homage to Dick, Lethem is rightly confident of bringing his own voice and special contributions to his work His prose appeals to me like Irving and Chabon s Like Vonnegut, he infuses a warmth and hopefulness in characters in the process of forging their reality At the end of the interview, he admits to what could be labeled the Absurdism variant of an Existential outlook i.e that we may never know the true foundation of the reality we perceive, but we need to shape our own version of meaning and ride with itWhat are the tolerances for the exposure of sustaining fictions in any given life At some point, you re going to settle You re going to make a snow globe and live inside it. @Download Book Ø Chronic City ⚪ The Acclaimed Author Of Motherless Brooklyn And The Fortress Of Solitude Returns With A Roar With This Gorgeous, Searing Portrayal Of Manhattanites Wrapped In Their Own Delusions, Desires, And LiesChase Insteadman, A Handsome, Inoffensive Fixture On Manhattan S Social Scene, Lives Off Residuals Earned As A Child Star On A Beloved Sitcom Called Martyr Pesty Chase Owes His Current Social Cachet To An Ongoing Tragedy Much Covered In The Tabloids His Teenage Sweetheart And Fianc E, Janice Trumbull, Is Trapped By A Layer Of Low Orbit Mines On The International Space Station, From Which She Sends Him Rapturous And Heartbreaking Love Letters Like Janice, Chase Is Adrift, She In Earth S Stratosphere, He In A Vague Routine Punctuated By Upper East Side Dinner Parties Into Chase S Cloistered City Enters Perkus Tooth, A Wall Eyed Free Range Pop Critic Whose Soaring Conspiratorial Riffs Are Fueled By High Grade Marijuana, Mammoth Cheeseburgers, And A Desperate Ache For Meaning Perkus S Countercultural Savvy And Voracious Paranoia Draw Chase Into Another Manhattan, Where Questions Of What Is Real, What Is Fake, And Who Is Complicit Take On A Life Shattering Urgency Along With Oona Laszlo, A Self Loathing Ghostwriter, And Richard Abneg, A Hero Of The Tompkins Square Park Riot Now Working As A Fixer For The Billionaire Mayor, Chase And Perkus Attempt To Unearth The Answers To Several Mysteries That Seem To Offer That Rarest Of Artifacts On An Island Where Everything Can Be Bought Truth Like Manhattan Itself, Jonathan Lethem S Masterpiece Is Beautiful And Tawdry, Tragic And Forgiving, Devastating And Antic, A Stand In For The Whole World And A Place Utterly Unique Moments of 5 star writing here but I found myself unable to have the kind of deep, caring engagement with the story arcs and characters that such a rating generally requires That said, the book was fully entertaining all the way through Jam packed with humorous and thoughtful riffs and meta riffs on pop culture, avant garde art, stoned philosophizing all pulled through the looking glass of Lethem s penchant for Noirish Mystery and geekish cataloging Clever but not too clever The most enjoyable aspect for me was on the surface level of the writing itself and the way little curios were laid about and then connected and or disconnected to and from one another after the fact Lethem s clearly a seasoned writer by this point and it shows in the texture and shape and the variations of his word choices and the phraseology of his descriptive motifs and every page held multiple sightings of such delicious penmenship I didn t find this to be quite the mindfuck book some describe it as I think some of the wacky elements are used brilliantly as red herrings in service of the idea that truth is pretty slippery and elusive and human beings are generally self centered and lashed to overactive imaginations not so much floated out there to truly blow your mind, man. Long live Perkus Tooth He must live, he is our Don Quixote, our post 9 11 innocent even chaste madman making of his own delusions or, as I prefer, his own powers of imagination a marvelously engaging and living world, the living world of this extremely entertaining novel.Tooth is at war with illusion, using his own illusions as weapons, and it s this clashing of culture s false illusions and Tooth s real illusions that creates life There is nothing real, or rather the real exists at basic levels exemplified by a dog s sniffing and shitting in the novel but reality at the higher levels of the human intellect, and by extension human society, is crowded with nothing but illusions and what this novel reveals is that there is something within engaged humans that creates human truth, and that this truth besides sniffing and shitting is the only truth we have.Chase Insteadman, the blank slate non entity and narrator of this novel, learns what this something is through his progressively deepening involvement with Tooth He learns that there is no objectified grail, i.e some tangible Truth of revelation, and that Truth is not even contained within objectified human activities and pursuits, but, again, that it s through engagement a deep inner process that manifests externally that Truth is revealed, yet still it remains ever elusive It is up to each individual to discover the lineaments of their own engagement.Sound like a self help book Well, it s not, but there is a warm humanism evident, and an earnestness, but it s never treacly, remaining tacit, informing and enriching the novel from below So these are the basic ideas of the book, but the problem is that as an idea man Lethem isn t quite up to the task I know of his love and admiration for Philip K Dick, and this book does investigate some Dickian preoccupations, but he doesn t add anything to them, in fact he dilutes them to a Truman Show level there is none of that patented and authentic Dickian metaphysical dread But what Lethem does he does very well and on a much larger canvas or at least in much greater detail and with a verbal panache beyond PKD s wildest dreams.There is also a problem with Insteadman s being such a non entity, in that for him to learn something is something of an anti climax and as an aside, his romance with his astro fiance is a bit juvenile though maybe that s intentional , so at a character level his re birth falls just a bit flat, like what he learned he should ve learned long ago, though still it made me feel good But on a symbolic allegorical level, with Insteadman representing post 9 11 Manhattan starting from scratch and going through a process of re birth, there is potent resonance and significance Some could accuse the book of being bloated with verbal pyrotechnics, and Lethem does get too enad with his own voice and wit and humor at times, but it s only the narrative that s fatty, on the verbal level it s pure sinew, so if one keeps one s nose to the page and forgets being epi critical for a moment, the reading experience is pure pleasure, and a wild ride But this problem of book bloat comes to the fore when considering this as the possible masterpiece that Lethem seems to ve intended As grand entertainment, there s no problem, but as a masterpiece to be read and reread with each rereading offering fresh unfoldments and insights there is Part of the problem is that Lethem has a problem with letting things remain ambiguous and trusting that the readers get his allusions and meanings through storytelling alone Too many times he offers expositions of what he means in order to tie little happenings to his larger themes For instance he talks of dogs creating maps of invisible worlds through their sniffing as they navigate Manhattan, but then he feels the need to make what he really means even clearer by paralleling these doggy olfactory worlds with the larger theme of virtual worlds on line This reminded me of that horrible plastic bag scene in American Beauty It feels like a violation, like our minds have been rummaged and our private epiphanies made public Instead of revealing the beauty, these tendencies actually steal them from us Trust your readers Trust your viewers If they don t get what you re getting at then fuck em, the beauty and epiphanies are there, in potentia.Anyway, long live Perkus Tooth Shortly after a bout of sobriety and a return to Portland, from Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of seeing Jonathan Lethem give a reading in the building where I work I ve expressed opposition to public readings before, or at least a considerable amount of disdain toward an interest in the celebrity status of certain authors admittedly a preoccupation or opinion derived from William Gaddis s thoughts on the subject I was in total agreement with this man about how irrelevant it was to endlessly probe for questions about the personal life of an author and the relation between this life and their work Gaddis s stance on this also had much to do with the ability of the work of fiction itself being than capable of answering any of the questions that a reader could possibly have about it, thus single handedly, in a theoretical sense, eliminating the need for Q and A sessions, and lengthy explanations given in public What I overlooked of course, was that these events are typically fun, especially if you re stoned And they re revealing, revealing in a way that I was happy to discover, was actually possible.And especially if you re stoned and it s a book like Chronic City, and you find yourself in a constant state of wonder about whether or not the book is revelatory, or if it s just that you re stoned, and the story is about people who ostensibly smoke a lot of pot, and endlessly riff about pop culture, film, Manhattan, music, and cultural etc And especially if you re a cinephile and the book is largely about film, and possibly even influenced by film, in a stylistic sense.Lethem strolled up to the podium like a literary version of Max Fischer from Wes Anderson s Rush astute looking, confident in a nerdy almost nebbish sort of way, attentive, and generally enthusiastic about explaining and narrating He read the first chapter straight through I was on the edge of my seat, mouth agape, completely immersed, at times of the feeling that someone was narrating a Preston Sturges film out loud to me I loved it I also loved Lethem s openness about influence, and his fondness of the cinema After all, the two main characters of this particular story meet at the home offices of the Criterion Collection, and after all Perkus Tooth s character is an extension of Lethem s avowed interest in film, the side that has been expressed to an almost hyper articulate degree in his collection of essays entitled The Disappointment Artist After he finished reading from his book, I felt inescapably compelled to ask my new, favorite, contemporary author a question about film and literature This, after all, is a man, who to me, seems to be making a literary attempt to bridge the two artistic cultures So I asked, following up on a previous question about the influence of film in Lethem s work most of which, I m admittedly unfamiliar with, but looking forward to reading through , It seems that contemporary novelists, such as Pynchon, Dellilo, Wallace, etc, are open about writing about film in their fiction, and not only writing about it, but letting the medium of film influence the way that contemporary fiction is narrated and told, this in mind, do you feel as though you re part of this community of these types of authors cinephiles theorists almost And he replied, well, community is a funny word to use when you re talking about someone like Thomas Pynchon, but yes, I do find film to be a very important influence in my work, however, I would go even further back and cite Graham Greene and Vladimir Nabokov as heavier influences in the sense of novelists who openly write about, and are influenced by film, thank you What I really wanted to say after that was that I was stoned, and that in retrospect, yes, community was a poor word choice Of course, there were other questions I had But this was what I was most curious about, being somewhat new to Lethem s work This is actually all relevant Chronic City is after all, a book about people who live through and in circles of entertainment And Chase Insteadman s character grows through his understanding of an art that he had only previously been a tool of Perkus reveals this to him, in high grade government marijuana induced rants about film in a diner down the street from his house, or in his apartment, one filled with the detritus of all of the obscure, fragmented culture that he so adores Lethem s characters attempt to connect their relationship with art to their real surroundings i.e Manhattan The books plotlessness may strike some as being devoid of intention or direction, but in the end it flows like one of Tooth s rants, written by an enthusiast of culture who wants to share this wonderful condition, to make it human, to make us all feel a little less shallow for just being voyeurs. Don t rupture another s illusion unless you re positive the alternative you offer is worthwhile than that from which you re wrenching them Interrogate your solipsism Does it offer any better a home than the delusions you re reaching to shatterJonathan Lethem, Chronic City I really wanted to like Chronic City I really wanted to enjoy Lethem s latest NY story Sorry, no go The problem is Letham falls straight into a void, a hole, existing between Michael Chabon and William Gibson Don t misinterpret I m not saying he falls between, or is sandwiched next to them Nope, Lethem disappears He doesn t measure up The author seems to actually vanish The whole Manhattan MacGuffin Chaldron quest story in theory seems like it a respectable idea for novel It isn t hard to imagine a novel built around Manhattan s many MacGuffins references to Mailer, DeLillo, Bellow, and other City writers, abound in this novel an island city filled with pretense, exaggeration, self absorption, cultural significance, and artifice.The failure is Lethem builds this plaything city, this imaginary island, but when it comes down to it in the end all Letham does is reflect without escaping the worst cliches of Manhattan.And while he is sometimes clever, the writing here just isn t that good For me, that is where the real frustration comes in I want it to be better I want it to say I want it to matter It just isn t, doesn t and won t.Still, I ll give it three stars for no other reason than one character reminded me of a friend in college, plus it gave me an opportunity to try and actually sell a chaldron on eBay That has to count for something. I had to force myself to finish this one I love Lethem s style and concepts, but this story lacked any real plot in my eyes the characters just bungle around while being pretty unlikeable Chase was a loser, pretty much, and Perkus was one step from being the stereotypical smart yet weird, stoner, faux intellectual It wasn t that the story was boring it was just useless and borderline cliche in some aspects I couldn t empathize with a lazy once actor, nor with an evidently smart but absolute nutter like Perkus He reminded me of those people who smoke weed or do schrooms and think conspiracy theories up and believe they are somehow on or part of some other society that is self aware on some other level But they re not they re just on drugs, and to the sober people, it isn t very exciting The Chaldron obsession seemed drug induced than anything else as wellwas I supposed to read this book stoned I did like how all the answers were revealed at the end, but really, my life was not enhanced by a 500 page novel about has beens And stoners I ll still read Lethem, but I m growing less and less enchanted with his fiction his sci fi Girl in Landscape, Amnesia Moon, Gun, with Occasional Music is infinitely better. Chronic City will most definitely NOT be a 5 star book for everybody as evidenced by the mixed reviews here so here s a simple test to help determine if it will tickle your fancy or not Please choose the answers that best describe your feelings 1 I find Richard Linklater s semi surreal, conversation based films such as Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly possibly Slacker as well to be A Mostly amazing, makes me think deep thoughtsB Pretty good, nothing specialC BoringD Don t know, never watched those2 I find Philip K Dick s paranoia infused work concerning the nature of reality to be A Mindblowing and awesome for the most partB Decent, makes good movie fodder occasionallyC Sloppy and or incomprehensibleD Don t know, never read him3 I find listening to philosophically inclined stoned people frantically and loudly debate existential topics to be A Hilarious, with the occasional cool concept or nugget of seeming truthsB OK in small dosesC Very annoyingD Don t know, never was around any philosophically inclined stonersIf you ve answered anything other than A to than one of those questions, then there s a decent chance this may not be the book for you However, even if you ve answered B to one or two, but still had an A mixed in, then you may very well find this to be up your alley If you answered D to than one, then it s a total crapshoot, but it helps if you re someone who sometimes enjoys thinking about the nature of the world around you, just for kicks C s are just plain bad as far as you and this book jiving.Either way, it s best to go in with an open mind, but at the same time realize that the many strange things about the Manhattan of this novel the following examples are all mentioned early on in the book such as the escaped tiger wreaking havoc in the city the transcendental power of rare vases called chaldrons that the main characters are obsessed with finding the letters Chase receives from his famous astronaut fiancee, who s stuck in space due to a bunch of Chinese mines orbiting the Earth and who Chase has difficulty remembering the gray fog that pervades all of Lower Manhattan even the mysterious homeless guy who lives beneath Perkus s apartment window all have a purpose and serve as clues as to what s really going on It s important to keep this in mind, and not simply go on thinking it s all just a bunch of characters and their insane stoned ramblings, with some tiger silliness and such added in for flavor.The first time I attempted to read Chronic City a few years back I didn t realize this, and I ended up giving up within a few chapters, not quite getting the point Now it s clear I just wasn t in the right frame of mind Intrigued by the constant praises the author has heaped upon Philip K Dick over the years, and the fact that I m a fan of Lethem s science fiction works of the 90 s, I briefly skimmed online reviews, and the glowing ones all emphasized words like conspiracy, insane, simulacrum, uproarious, and existential Those words are some of my favorites, so I dove in again with a different mindset, and I just now turned the final page, my mind well and truly blown.It certainly won t be everyone s cup of tea, so I can t give a full on, no qualifiers recommendation But if you re like me, and enjoy getting caught up in mysteries about what s real and what s not, with a group of eccentric thirty something, pseudo intellectual, used to be a big deal but are now pretty much just stoners hence the Chronic in Chronic City for company, then you re not likely to find a sublimely written, enveloping at times even mind bending book around, with than a handful of laugh out loud moments, a rarity for me with literature.In other words, 4 to 5 stars for those of us who are mostly A s, and 3 stars on average for the rest, in my estimation Some people, I m sure, will find the stellar dialogue and great characters including the city itself enough to carry them through There s no denying that Jonathan Lethem can write, so have faith that it IS all leading somewhere, and just enjoy the ride in the meantime, even if it is a bit meandering Me, I wish I could have spent even time with these lunatics especially Richard forever stalked by eagles Abneg, whom I pictured as Zach Galifianakis bearded version , which made his plight even ridiculous and amusing and I ll probably be re reading Chronic City every few years for the rest of my life, and that s than good enough for a 5 star rating in my book, even if many may disagree.I have a feeling, however, that it will find its audience one day, but for now I m just glad that I gave this book another shot, as I believe I may have found a new must read everything author in Jonathan Lethem.5 Stars. In which Lethem tackles paranoia and conspiracy theory, in other words, DeLillo and Pynchon territory.There s a wonderful book struggling to get out of this rambling oblique farce of a novel The full blooded obsessive vigilance of conspiracy theorists would make a great subject for a modern novel the watchdogs who watch the watchdogs, an informed elite calling to account a sinister informed elite at the other end of the political spectrum I watched a video yesterday where a guy examined frame by frame that famous shot of the woman hanging outside the window of the Bataclan He was looking for evidence that the Paris shootings were another false flag event whose sinister purpose is to scare populaces into eventually accepting police states and fascist politics In the broader spectrum of things his reasoning came across as absurd but isolated within the footage itself there was something suspiciously stagecrafted about what we see You understood then that what we believe depends entirely sometimes on the base of some deeper emotional need Fascinating though was the sense that the guy espousing his theory believed he was right at the heart of history, a major player in the shaping of the future A man who has found his raison d etre I couldn t help seeing there the ideal character for Lethem s novel Unfortunately in Lethem s world the conspiracy theorist, Perkus Tooth, isn t intriguing or located at the cutting edge of monumental world events His intellectual suspicions, fuelled by dope Lethem s take on conspiracy theorists is too often founded on lazy clich s are mostly irrelevantly absurd whether or not Brando is really dead for example So there s quickly a sense Lethem is making fun of conspiracy theories which seemed to me a cheap and easy way to dismiss a compelling phenomenon of our times DeLillo and Pynchon are both far subtle and thought provoking and many layered in their examinations of this subject After all, do we really believe without some misgivings the official versions of the Luther King and Kennedy assassinations Or, to take it several steps further, do we believe it was the Jews or communists who burnt down the Reichstag The politics of power is a dirty dog eat dog business There s bound to be sinister undertakings involved But Lethem is going to ignore the sinister for slapstick He s found an easy target for mockery and he s damned if he s not going to take full advantage of it Another cop out is the novel is set in some kind of alternate universe where Lethem can further indulge his self indulgence for the absurdly implausible And this was the problem for me This is a novel of brilliant surfaces but little depth There was a much daring and ambitious novel hived in his material but he rejected it for a madcap convoluted haul through event after event of inconsequential absurdity If you ve never read Lethem before I d recommend Motherless Brooklyn where his stylistic brilliance doesn t, like in Chronic City, overcompensate for his lack of intellectual daring or vigour He s a very good writer but this novel convinced me he ll never be quite in the same class as DeLillo or Pynchon.