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The 150-word Review: If you’ve ever been bullied relentlessly (been yoked); if you’ve ever had to desperately project a mole-like inconspicuousness as a means for survival; if you’ve ever withdrawn within yourself to a world of music, art, and imagination for solace; if you’ve ever hidden your devotion to another because it would mean suicide in your world; if you’ve ever somehow grew up, moved away, and found success; if you ever returned home in despair; Jonathan Lethem speaks to you.
“The Fortress of Solitude” is the story of a young motherless white boy and his equally motherless, preternaturally hip, black friend (masters of skully games, comic books, midnight graffiti missions, and superpowers) growing up in Boerum Hill (née Gowanus Houses), Brooklyn in the 1970’s. Featuring a deeply personal soundtrack, Lethem meditates on a not-so-idyllic coming of age, the struggle for identity, and how returning to ones youth can sometimes lead to redemption.
You would like this book if you’re a fan of: top-to-bottom burners, album liner notes, gentrification, early-era Hip Hop, intellectual punk rock, avant-garde art, genre bending fiction, and suspect magic realism.
This book would go great with: YooHoo, Rheingold, Manhattan Special
Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): Actually Norm… Jonathan Lethem was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “genius” grant, in 2005.
Reading this book would impress: Fab Five Freddy, Philip K. Dick, DJ Kool Herc, Lou Reed, and Brooklyn hipsters.