Men and Cartoons
"Men and Cartoons" is an all too brief return visit to the fictional worlds created by Jonathan Lethem in his memorable novels "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Fortress of Solitude", with more than a passing nod to such classic early work from him like his literary debut "Gun, With Occasional Music". Hence it is an interesting, often fascinating, blend of literary styles from quasi-cyberpunk science fiction to hard-boiled noirish detective stories remin...more
Fans of Lethem will recognize his favorite themes, trademark wit, and verbal dexterity sprinkled throughout this unusual collection. A few critics sense staleness, however. It's as if these stories were written years ago, and have been sitting in a drawer ever since. In fact, many are old and served as inspiration for Lethem's novels. Some of the tales are sharp ("The Glasses"), a few are unsurprising ("The Spray"), most are bleak, and a couple of them are stellar examples of the genre. Everyone...more
I did really like "The National Anthem," and a few other stories had some interesting thoughts,...more
"Access Fantasy" - normally I like Lethem, but this one had me waiting for it to end.
"The Spray" - didn't do it for me. But it was short.
"Vivian Relf" - really didn't get it. Reminds me a little of that "someday you may wake up to realize that someone else is married to your husband" quote from When Harry Met Sally.
"Planet Big Zero" - Not for me. Too literary, too meanderin...more
Speaking of which, this collection was hit and miss. I thoroughly enjoyed and may reread stories such as The Vision, Planet Big Zero and Super Goat Man. The only reason I would rerea...more
What impressed me about "The Spray" when I heard it, and also when I read it, was its easy style--a couple find that their apartment has been robbed, but when the police come, the couple find that they are not sure about what has been taken, so the police spray the apartment with a substan...more
Superhero Supply (actually a storefront for social work by the publisher/literary ma...more
The best story, without question is The Dystopianist, Thinking Of His Rival Is Interrupted By A Knock On The Door. TDTOHRIIBAKOTD is as screwball as its title suggests, and is delightfully subver...more
- There's not much wrong with it. The last story seems weak as an anchor for the collection.
This is my 4th Lethem and the most delightful short story collection I've read recently. Lethem's focus here is on relationships--with oneself, with others--and the failure of communication. In many of the stories, intrusive encounters and unwitting coincidental meetings (with people previously known and unknown) provide the p...more
The upside is that al...more