JONATHAN LETHEM

This book consists of several essays that show the influence art and culture had on the author's life.  He describes them as covert and not-so-covert autobiographical essays.  He tells the readers of his obsessive-compulsive behavior stating in one essay that he has seen Star Wars 21 times at the same theater just off Times Square.  Jonathan admits that he was using the movie as a place to hide.  He was "hiding" because his parents had separated a couple of years earlier.  In addition his mother had begun having seizures that later was diagnosed as a brain tumor.  Why did Jonathan pick 21 as the number of times to see this movie?  Well, he thought it symbolized the adulthood of maturity.  He admits he won't see a movie that many times again but he has seen "The Searchers" twelve times. 

Another interesting essay is titled "Lives of the Bohemians".  The opening sentence in this essay is "I learned to think by watching my father paint." In Brooklyn, his parents were overtly political and counter cultural and were involved in many causes.  In 1975, his father moved out of the house.  Jonathan thought this was the worst thing that could happen.  However, something worse happened.  His mother started to have seizures, which was diagnosed as a brain tumor.  His mother died of cancer at the age of 36.  At the age of 14, Jonathan's mother gave him a manual typewriter for his birthday.  This was the last birthday she would spend with him.  He wrote a 125-page novel and several poems. 

Jonathan Lethem gives us an honest insight into his innermost thoughts.  These essays make for some very interesting reading.  It is not considered "light reading".  It is the type of reading that will make you do some thinking in between the lines because not all is spelled out for you - you have to use your own imagination and thinking skills.  That's what makes this type of reading an interesting challenge.  You will also discover that much of Jonathan's essays are a way of dealing with the loss of his mother at such an early age.  After reading this book you will see that the author is very skilled at writing essays.  This book is highly recommended.