Nate D's Reviews > The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye

The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye by Jonathan Lethem
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's review
Jul 08, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2010, stories, sci-fi
Read from July 08 to August 13, 2010 , read count: 2

I've read this collection before, yes, but for some reason this edition omits two stories ("Access Fantasy" and "How We Got Into and Out of Town") that are in the other one I have, and adds two new ones I've never seen ("Vanilla Dunk" and "Forever, Said the Duck"). I think this is the "official" edition as both of the omitted stories appear in other collections now, despite having come out of this period.

I actually can't quite decide which edition I prefer. Access Fantasy is one of Lethem's finest pieces of fiction at any length, and How We Got is a good example of his old overfilled story-writing style, but Forever, Said the Duck is actually rather brilliant in its own dizzying right, and "Vanilla Dunk" is a considerably more developed long-form tale than How We Got, even making me interested in reading detailed accounts of basketball games.

Now I'm back in the familiar territory of "Five Fucks", which still crackles with weird invention on second reading.


And finished! "Sleepy People" is such a dreamlike and perfect story. Along with "Forever, Said the Duck" especially, it makes me recall that Lethem's biggest asset here is his willingness to just dump the reader into strange fascinating circumstances with little or no exposition. To just leave them to gradually understand, or not (also okay). Unfortunately, he occasionally feels a need for heavy Colombo-style ending exposition, which tends to overemphasize his plot points a little, but this is pretty forgivable, especially considering how vague he leaves a couple of the others.

I used to prefer the second Lethem collection to this one, but I think that was because I was in a period of seeking "serious, realistic" stories or something, not weird genre-fiction. But weird genre fiction like this is so much more inventive and memorable.
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