onsdag, juli 20, 2005

Motherless Brooklyn av Jonathan Lethem

Lionel Essrog är en av de fyra föräldralösa ungar som hamnat under Frank Minnas beskydd. Det är Tony som tror sig vara italienare, Steve Grossman stor mage liten hjärna, basketkillen Danny Fantl och runkaren Gilbert och så Lionel, a Free Human Freakshow, med Tourettes syndrom. Motherless Brooklyn.

Minna's Court Street was the Old Brooklyn, a placid ageless surface alive underneath with talk, with deals and casual insults, a neighborhood political machine with pizzeria and butcher-shop bosses and unwritten rules everywhere. All was talk except for what mattered most, which were unspoken understandings.

Pojkarna får kostymer, tror sig först vara flyttfirma och limousinservice, sen detektiver och kallar sig Minna Men. Någon sticker en kniv i Minna och Lionel ger sig ut, som den deckare han är, för att hitta mördaren.

Minna Men wear suits. Minna Men drive cars. Minna Men listen to tapped lines. Minna Men stand behind Minna, hands in their pockets, looking menacing. Minna Men carry money. Minna Men collect money. Minna Men don't ask questions. Minna Men answer phones. Minna Men pick up packages. Minna Men are clean-shaven. Minna Men follow instructions. Minna Men try to be like Minna, but Minna is dead.

Tell your story walking.

Jonathan Lethem

Motherless Brooklyn. 1999. Vintage contemporaries, 2000. Pocket: ISBN 0-375-72483-4
The Fortress of Solitude 2005


> Jonatham Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn Read by Steve Buscemi
> (mp3 excerpt i Salon)

Wheels within wheels was another of Minna's phrases, used exclusively to sneer at our notions of coincidence or conspiracy. If we Boys ever dabbled in astonishment at, say, his running into three girls he knew from high school in a row on Court Street, two of whom he'd dated behind each other's backs, he'd bug his eyes and intone: wheels within wheels. No Met had ever pitched a no-hitter, but Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan both pitched them after being traded away--wheels within wheels. The barber, the cheese man and the bookie were all named Carmine--oh yeah, wheels within wheels, bigtime. You're onto something there, Sherlock.
Utdrag ur Motherless Brooklyn

"Frank, what happened?"

"Knife," said Minna. "No biggie."

"You're gonna be all right?" Coney was asking and willing it at once.

"Oh, yeah. Great."

"Sorry, Frank."

"Who?" I said. "Who did this?"

Minna smiled. "You know what I want out of you, Freakshow? Tell me a joke. You got one you been saving, you must."

Utdrag ur Motherless Brooklyn.

Lethem harnesses the engine of a familiar genre to transport us to a territory uniquely his own. It comes as no surprise that he uses Tourette's as an excuse for some heady verbal pyrotechnics. (My favorite Essrog riff: "He's just a big mouse, Daddy, a vigorous louse, big as a house, a couch, a man, a plan, a canal, apocalypse.") More unexpected is the sympathetic warmth he brings to the characterization of Lionel. "Motherless Brooklyn" has a few problems -- including some cartoonlike stock characters and one scene near the end that flirts with maudlin sentimentality -- but it works far better than the average hip postmodern novel in terms of sheer emotional impact. "Motherless Brooklyn". Salon Reviews

In other words: once there were giants, with magical powers, secret identities, Technicolored underwear, and swishy capes. Male adulthood proved to be much less fun than the masked dreams of pop culture had led little boys to believe. Growing up stunted us. The primary emotions and psychic wounds of the Marvel superhero are as drums and trumpets to the disappointed marimba tinkle and sneezy regrets of the fortysomething salaryman. "Perhaps," says Lethem, "superheroism was a sort of toxin, like a steroid, one with a punitive cost to the body" ?but we can't help feeling that, for him, we traded in the experience of living large (James Dean, Godzilla) for the poignant (a wild pitch, a broken shoe lace) and the ignoble (cowardice, envy: "Bite my crank, Super Goat Man!"?the taunt of two college boys trying to provoke the aging comic book hero to use his superpowers as he climbs a clock tower toward them and the giant paper clip they wave down at him as if it were an "enormous phallus").
Welcome to New Dork. Artikel om Jonathan Lethem appropå The Fortress of Solitude. John Leonard i New York Review of Books, April 7, 2005