Friday, July 28, 2006
God, I Love Reading! Today’s Episode: The Disappointment Artist, by Jonathan Lethem
I’ve been reading a ton of great stuff lately, but I think each deserves their own separate post. So today’s edition will feature the abovementioned book of essays by Lethem, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you’ve read The Fortress of Solitude, which is great, or his recent story collection Men and Cartoons, great as well, I think both will be further illuminated by reading these essays on various music, art, films, and writers. For one, you get to see a little bit of where the autobiography of the fiction overlaps and where it doesn’t. But of particular interest to me was how these essays were so intensely personal, because they’re extremely thoughtful with regard to the subject matter at hand, and yet in the end, it’s about him in a very direct and important way, and to me it’s what makes them so engaging. Every time I read something like this I nod my head, make sniffy noises like, hmf, why can’t I articulate observations like these about the artists I admire? I think them, but they’re all blurry in my head, and I feel incapable of making anything but the most obvious statements even though I know I get it. And, also, if you happened to have grown up in New York in the seventies, and as a child of quasi-bohemians (his were thoroughly boho – mine were only quasi, or perhaps even faux) it’s impossible not to just be whooshed back to that time, for better or worse. Okay, well, I realize that’s very specific, but he’s just so good at pinpointing what was going on in that world at that time, and how it shaped him, for better and worse, and it’s pretty interesting boho or not. Plus, he coined the word “irv” in place of “oeuvre,” which kills me, because it’s a word that’s quite useful, but one I feel I can only say out loud if I exaggerate it and make it seem as though it has any number of extra syllables.