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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Fortress of Solitude

I'm currently recommending Fortress of Solitude to everyone. I had only known author Jonahtan Lethem from his Da Capo anthology, but I'm glad a took a chance on his novel. The music stuff is great and more fun to read than most histories (not having been in Brooklyn, or anywhere else, during the time of the novel, I can't vouch for its accuracy, but it sure feels right). We get the rise of NYC rap, punk, and new wave, and a sideways glance at the intersecting cultures, boiled down to a personal level.

I like the formal structure of the book, esp. the use of liner notes as a narrative device and a segue between sections. The notes read like liner notes and don't feel forced at all. Lethem shifts voices easily, and he does a good job developing the narrator of the third section's voice in both the narrative and the notes -- it's clearly the same person doing two types of writing. The novel's not in chronological sequence, but neither is it a scattershot presentation. I expected Lethem to have a po-mo sensibility -- and it's there a bit -- but he's precise in his technique.

By the way, I still have almost 100 pages left, so no spoilers, please.


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