Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: The Fortress of Solitude, By Jonathan Lethem

The Premise:
A coming of age novel in a gentrified neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1970s through early 1990s.

The Good:
Lethem can write. He’s one of those writers that makes ridiculously detailed, yet evocative scenes seem effortless. Not that you would notice. He grabs the reader and submerges them in his story. Each scene, each character, each place seems fully formed. Each action has consequence, for better or worse.

The Bad:
I didn’t like the main character, Dylan Ebdus. I know I’m not supposed to say that, especially since it’s “his” story, but upon reflection, I found him to be a flawed character—not in an endearing way. In a sense that made him more human, but I just didn’t think he made the best decisions. Or at least no enough to redeem himself. Also, like the book “The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, there’s a moment halfway through that comes out of nowhere and almost ruined it for me.  I’m just not sure that all that was necessary.

The Verdict:
Read it. From a sheer technical writing aspect, Lethem’s writing is amazing. I haven’t read his other books, so you might want to start somewhere else. But if you do read this book, just know that there’s some adult subject matter in parts. For better or worse.