Jonathan Lethem

‘Never Can Say Goodbye': New York City Is a Hell You Can Never Leave

Hell’s Kitchen. Hell Gate. Richard Hell. The signs (and wonders) are everywhere. Abandon all hope: New York City is a living Hell of renegade capital, exploited labor, racial hatred, institutional misogyny, and bodega cats. You must say goodbye.

Or is it a neoliberal paradise, imperfect yet lovable, where capital and culture and rats roam free? … Read More

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50 Great Books You’ll Never Read in School

Back-to-school time is upon us, and for many, that means reading for pleasure will give way to burning through that syllabus. Classrooms, especially high school classrooms (college classes are becoming so weird and specific nowadays that you could read just about anything in them), suffer from the “classic effect” — which is exactly what it sounds like. Not that there’s anything wrong with literary classics, and they definitely should be read, but there’s so much more out there. And when you consider the fact that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives — well, it would be nice if they had a little more to go on than The Great Gatsby. After the jump, find a selection of books you’ll (probably) never read in high school, but should still read, and add your own favorite anti-schoolbooks to the list in the comments. … Read More

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10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written

If there’s one topic that writers can be counted on to tackle at least once in their working lives, it’s writing itself. A good thing too, especially for all those aspiring writers out there looking for a little bit of guidance. For some winter inspiration and honing of your craft, here you’ll find ten great essays on writing, from the classic to the contemporary, from the specific to the all-encompassing. Note: there are many, many, many great essays on writing. Bias has been extended here to personal favorites and those available to read online. Also of note but not included: full books on the subject like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Ron Carlson’s Ron Carlson Writes a Story, or, in a somewhat different sense, David Shields’ Reality Hunger, for those looking for a longer commitment. Read on, and add your own favorite essays on writing to the list in the comments. … Read More

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Garth Risk Hallberg’s ‘City on Fire': Why Writers Are Obsessed With New York’s Past

If you’re a New Yorker who gets your information from Matt Drudge — and I’m really sorry if that’s the case — then you’re already counting down the days until you’re forced to join the Baseball Furies, the Gramercy Riffs, the Turnbull AC’s, or if you’re really desperate, the Orphans. That’s because, according to Drudge, the Bill de Blasio era will signal nothing short of the end of democracy as we know it in the Big Apple. Warriors, come out to play… … Read More

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Awesome Tumblr Illustrates the Best Quotes From Famous Authors’ Readings

If you can’t be there in person, the best way to appreciate a great reading is Kate Gavino’s Tumblr, Last Night’s Reading. Instead of putting together a lengthy play-by-play of the event she witnessed, Gavino records the best quote, and accompanies it with a colorful sketch of the author. It sounds simple, but the results are striking and unforgettable. Click through for a few highlights. … Read More

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10 Bizarre Literary Landmarks Everyone Should Visit

Everyone knows about the Important Literary Places, and authors’ graves and childhood homes abound in guidebooks and popular knowledge. But what about the slightly weirder literary landmarks? They’re worth a visit, too, and perhaps even more so — after all, at least one of them can cure your illness if you give it a good rub. From road signs to impossibly smug sculptures, find ten bizarre literary landmarks worth a visit after the jump — and add your own favorites to the list in the… Read More

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From Yonatan to Franzen: Ranking Pop Culture’s Jonathans Throughout the Ages

According to Alexander Nazaryan at The New Republic, Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens is the best novel of 2013. Lethem is already one of America’s most successful literary authors, and whether or not other reviewers will agree with Nazaryan remains to be seen; but the thing is, none of this is important as the fact that he is a Jonathan. Jonathan is more than just a name; it’s a state of mind and cultural birthright that one must embrace from the day he is born, as each of these top 16 famous Jonathans has… Read More

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Jonathan Lethem’s ‘Dissident Gardens': In Praise of Authors Who Aren’t Afraid to Geek Out

When I tell people that Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel, Dissident Gardens, is the author’s most accessible work, I tend to walk away from the conversation thinking I did the person I was talking to, and the author, a disservice. The book isn’t less engaging or a step down from his previous works; what I mean is that Dissident Gardens is Lethem’s easiest novel to follow, and far less genre- and culture reference-dependent than past novels like Chronic City (science fiction) and Motherless Brooklyn (postmodern detective novel). … Read More

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50 of the Best Books You Haven’t Read by Authors You Already Love

Looking for something to read but don’t want to stray too far from the authors you know and love? Seeking undiscovered literary gems to talk about at dinner parties? Want to delve into the backlist of a certain Great American Author? Well, Flavorwire has got you covered. After all, sometimes, amazing books just get lost in the shuffle, whether it’s because they’re before their time, fall out of fashion, or their author has one blockbuster that blots out all the rest. Click through to check out 50 great under-appreciated, under-read, and overshadowed novels by 50 of your favorite… Read More

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Scenes From the Forthcoming East Coast-West Coast Literary War

What do the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand have in common with a New Republic piece written by Marc Tracy? Hopefully nothing, but the title, “The L.A. Review of Books Declares War on the N.Y. Review of Books,” suggests that the piece could be the earliest document of a literary war between the coasts that will rival the Tupac and Biggie feud of the 1990s.

Since we at Flavorwire are peaceful East Coast citizens who love taking trips out to California without fearing any type of bodily harm, we present this timeline as a cautionary tale of what might happen if what Tracy perceives as aggression on the part of the scrappy upstart Los Angeles Review of Books against the venerable New York Review of Books escalates.  … Read More

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