About Me

My photo
To listen to my latest recording, view my complete profile and then click on "audio clip" under "links"

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lost In Lethem Land

David Foster Wallace, John Updike, and now Christopher Hitchens are gone. So I'm thrilled to have recently discovered "The Ecstasy of Influence", a book of non-fiction by Jonathan Lethem. Given how thoroughly I enjoyed the essays of those three giants no longer writing, I'm looking forward to getting lost in Lethem land a lot in the future.

The essays in "Ecstasy..." cover a dizzying array of topics and range in length from half a page to 40 pages - that one happens to be about James Brown. Like all the talented writers I admire, Lethem is persuasive as a reading evangelist.  I have yet to read a book of essays and not come away with at least a few new authors to add to my list. Updike led me to Anne Tyler; Wallace persuaded me to return to Kafka; Hitchens convinced me to sample the work of his friends Martin Amis & Salman Rushdie. Lethem's suggestions? Among others, he reminded me I'd forgotten to look up Italo Calvino, an author highly esteemed by another terrific essayist - the always provocative Gore Vidal.

I hope someone will pick up Lethem's book and tell me what you think; he's a writer that begs to be discussed. Even when I was a little out of my depth, I felt smarter just reading him. If you don't have much  time, just read a few of his essays recalling 9/11. A little more time? Try the title essay and "Postmodernism As Liberty Valance". I'm guessing you'll get lost in Lethem land a little bit too.

No comments:

Post a Comment