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The Fortress of Solitude | [Jonathan Lethem]

The Fortress of Solitude

This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification."
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Publisher's Summary

This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification."

This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human 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 the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore.

This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist. 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.

This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn't accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption.

This is the story Jonathan Lethem was born to tell. This is The Fortress of Solitude.

©2002 Jonathan Lethem; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Glorious, chaotic, raw. . . . One of the richest, messiest, most ambitious, most interesting novels of the year. . . . Lethem grabs and captures 1970s New York City, and he brings to it a story worth telling." (Time)

“The finest novel of the year, by far, and likely of the past five. . . . Better than a movie, better than a symphony, better than a play, and better than a painting, because it is all of them.” (Austin Chronicle)

"A tour de force . . . Belongs to a venerable New York literary tradition that stretches back through Go Tell it On the Mountain, A Walker in the City, and Call it Sleep." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (228 )
5 star
 (98)
4 star
 (68)
3 star
 (23)
2 star
 (23)
1 star
 (16)
Overall
4.0 (96 )
5 star
 (44)
4 star
 (27)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.4 (93 )
5 star
 (57)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
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  •  
    Mary Scotia, NY, USA 04-02-10
    Mary Scotia, NY, USA 04-02-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Pointless"

    I stuck with this book til the bitter end because I kept thinking there must be a satisfying tying-up of myriad loose ends. But no. The book just didn't seem to have a point. If the writing and narration hadn't been as good as they were, I wouldn't have been able to stick it out. There were some interesting characters, too. But in the end, I felt there needed to be a stronger story line.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 11-16-08
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 11-16-08 Member Since 2010

    audiobookaholic

    HELPFUL VOTES
    245
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    168
    52
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    15
    1
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    The specificity of the music references, the accuracy of the slang and the poignancy of words unsaid, the feel of a place and time delivered as if by sense transmission, the roots and rise of the crack epidemic, the escape from the confusion and loneliness of adolescence into worlds of superheroes - "Fortress of Solitude" delivers on so many levels at once that I found myself backing up and listening again over and over to my favorite parts trying to gather it all in. This is a masterful piece of fiction that I know I will return to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Jonathan Newman Guelph, Ontario Canada 08-12-06
    Dr. Jonathan Newman Guelph, Ontario Canada 08-12-06 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    98
    26
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Very enjoyable but not his best work"

    I'm a huge Lethem fan, and I really enjoyed this book but, ..., not as much as others he has written. It's hugely ambitious, unsparing in character development, but I found the whole 'flying thing' distracting to rest of the larger message. Still worth a listen though.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Boston, MA, USA 08-04-06
    Andrew Boston, MA, USA 08-04-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    122
    1
    Overall
    "Historical Fiction Fatasy"

    I thought this book was an excellent portrayal about the lives of Brooklyn kids growing up in the seventies. True, the plot is a wider scope than some people may desire but it is unique and the character development is superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheldon brown 04-28-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    218
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "The universal from the particular"

    I almost never fall for nostalgia. But in this case, the writers gift takes the naval gazing, self-concious, nostalgic character and sublimates his experience to epitomize the essential in those times and places. One of the best books I've listened to, and it drove me back to the text to read it, which extends my appreciation.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Cazenovia, NY, USA 12-20-03
    Jon Cazenovia, NY, USA 12-20-03 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    102
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    234
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "A Perfect title for a very sad story"

    Perfectly crafted sentences......yeah, if you carry a dictionary with you. The writer likes to use words that make the sentences flowery and beautiful....but what did he say?
    I walked away after listening to this book with a very sad feeling. The book was about being depressed .......passing through life without any meaning.....wasting time.....being a victim...I wish I had never read this.

    The author was able to keep my attention for the entire book but I felt very let down at the end with the absurd fantasy of a jail entry.

    Maybe I missed something. But, I can't recommend this title to anyone.

    6 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Novato, CA, United States 01-16-04
    Tom Novato, CA, United States 01-16-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "The Fortress Of Solitude"

    This is one of the most boring books I have ever listened to. The basic story is good, however Lethem rambles for countless minutes about nothing pertaining to the main story. Talk about mindless dribble. After listening to about 75% of the book, I finally stopped. I couldn't even finish the book, which is unusual for me. If this book was cut in half it might have been OK.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorenrw 05-23-07
    Lorenrw 05-23-07 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    187
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Goes nowhere"

    This is one of the few audio books in the three years I have been a member that I wanted to turn off and dump. There was no ending, it just stoped in the middle of nowhere. I kept thinking there has to be more to this story. It was read very well. I give five stars to the reader. It was like hearing someone reading an encyclopedia that went nowhere. Do not waste your credit or time on this book

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 12-07-06
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 12-07-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    49
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    30
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    Overall
    "Awful"

    I can not tell you how boring this book was. I listened to it as long as I could, at least three quarters way through before I put it down. It never hooked me. I had to force myself to listen. I was more than patient. Characters were developed and then they went nowhere with it. It was a big disappointment and a waste of time.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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