The incomparable Jonathan Lethem returns with nine brilliant stories that prove he is a master of the short form as well as the novel.
Jonathan Lethem stretches new literary muscles in this scintillating new collection of stories. Some of these tales - such as "Pending Vegan", which wonderfully captures a parental ache and anguish during a family visit to an aquatic theme park - are, in Lethem's words, "obedient (at least outwardly) to realism." Others, like "The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear", which deftly and hilariously captures the solipsism of blog culture, feature "the uncanny and surreal elements that still sometimes erupt in my short stories."
The tension between these two approaches, and the way they inform each other, increase the reader's surprise and delight as one realizes how cleverly Lethem is playing with form. Devoted fans of Lethem will recognize familiar themes and tropes - the anxiety of influence pushed to reduction ad absurdum in "The King of Sentences"; a hapless outsider trying to summon up bravado in "The Porn Critic"; characters from the comics stranded on a desert island; the necessity and the impossibility of action against authority in "Procedure in Plain Air". As always, Lethem's work, humor, and poignancy work in harmony; people strive desperately for connection through words and often misdirect deeds; and the sentences are glorious.
Read by a Full Cast:
"Lucky Alan" read by Mark Deakins
"The King of Sentences" read by David Wain
"Traveler Home" read by Mark Deakins
"Procedure in Plain Air" read by Amy Landecker
"Their Back Pages" read by Isaac Butler
"The Porn Critic" read by Bruce Wagner
"The Empty Room" read by Michael Goldstrom
"The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear" read by Jonathan Lethem
"Pending Vegan" read by Mark Deakins
Any additional comments?
I don't mind an eccentric book from time to time. This book was too eccentric for me. It felt like forced art..."look at me - look how abstract I am - aren't you impressed with my artsy eccentricity?" This book was not for me.
What would have made Lucky Alan better?
Not sure anything would
What was most disappointing about Jonathan Lethem’s story?
Just a jumble of almost left over stuff that never made it to a full story. I am not a literary connoisseur by any means, I read and listen to just about anything. I made it through 30 percent of this and just couldn't go any further.
Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?
Sure, the narrator just had bad content
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Lucky Alan?
Bad selection of material