Saturday, March 09, 2002

One of the most satisfying books I have read in the last few months -- Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, which takes narrative crime noir and twists it around to give us one of the most tragic characters in recent times: Lionel Essrog a.k.a The Human Freakshow, a victim of Tourette's syndrome. The narrative and descriptions within the novel (his longest to date, I am told). Struggling with Tourette's and a world that fails to understand his plight, Lionel must turn real detective when his saviour Frank Minna is wasted on a stakeout. Lethem uses the flow of investigation to guide us through a maze of complex human relationships offset by the city of Brooklyn itself. Almost perfect, the novel's undoing is in the tail section, which attempts a wrap-up and engages in some unwanted prolix. But such issues can be put to rest, for this is a very entertaining and engaging read. Lethem takes an interesting concept and fleshes it out. And a nice intriguing title is only icing to the cake. {SPOILER: The title refers to the Minna Men, the orphans from St. Vincent's Home for Boys, Brooklyn}. To find out more about Lethem's work, check out 'the only comprehensive site on the web devoted solely to his works' by David Myers.

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