Becca's Reviews > Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
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's review
Aug 07, 2008

liked it
Read in August, 2008

Though it was decent enough, knowing Lethem's other work made me still think that this book was a let down. The book is filled with brilliant writing, brilliant language, brilliant images- and it's worth the read for that alone.
The premise is awesome, but Lethem doesn't follow it through to it's full potential. It is written from the perspective of a detective with Tourettes, but the language of the first person narrative itself isn't at all Tourettic despite the speech of the narrator everywhere else. It is inconsistent and makes for an unconvincing voice, and makes his symptoms seem just on the surface. They also don't affect how the character solves the mystery, which is another disappointment, and there are very few characters who are sympathetic since everyone treats him like a "freak." Actually, there are very few characters who feel whole, complete, real- the book is filled with empty stereotypes. And the mystery itself was really unfulfilling, over complicated and under nuanced. The main character doesn't solve it so much as stumble over it too late. He also isn't at all a classic "Good guy"- he causes the death of several of the characters (directly and indirectly) and the author doesn't spend too much time dwelling on it. The book felt a bit rushed- Lethem was trying to keep things fast paced, but I think that the pacing is also responsible for the shallowness of some of the characters. The two brothers represented the best characters of the story, and both were only in one real scene before getting killed. However, I liked the flashbacks, which at first appeared overly long and wound up important. While it had some moments of brilliant writing, in the end I expected more.
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