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Conversations with Jonathan Lethem

Jaime Clarke

Publication Year: 2011

Conversations with Jonathan Lethem collects fourteen interviews, conducted over a decade and a half, with the Brooklyn-born author of such novels as Girl in Landscape, Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, Chronic City, and many others. Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award, Lethem (b. 1964) covers a wide range of subjects, from what it means to incorporate genre into literature, to the impact of the death of his mother on his life and work, to his being a permanent "sophomore on leave" from Bennington College, as well as his flight from Brooklyn to California and its lasting effect on his fiction. Lethem also reveals the many literary and pop culture influences that have informed his writing life.

Readers will find Lethem as charming and generous and intelligent as his work. His examination of what it means to live a creative life will reverberate and enlighten scholars and fans alike. His thoughts on science fiction, intellectual property, literary realism, genre, movies, and rock 'n' roll are articulated with elán throughout the collection, as are his comments on his own development as a craftsman.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Series: Literary Conversations Series

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pp. ix-xx

My first memory of Jonathan Lethem is from a literary event at Joe’s Pub in New York City, circa the late 1990s: in being introduced to the stage, the speaker, who had known Lethem from his days living in Berkeley, told an amusing story about picking Lethem up for some sort of doings, only to...


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pp. xxi-xxiii

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Private Hells and Radical Doubts: An Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 3-23

Jonathan Lethem began publishing short fiction in 1989 with “The Cave Beneath the Falls,” which Locus magazine promoted in its list of recommended stories. Since then, he has received Nebula nominations for the stories “The Happy Man” (1991) and “Five Fucks” (1996). His first novel...

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An Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 24-31

Hello, and welcome to Bookworm. This is Michael Silverblatt and today my guest is Jonathan Lethem. He’s the author most recently of Motherless Brooklyn, a book from Doubleday, and in, well, the first book was called Gun, with Occasional Music, followed by Amnesia Moon, then a book of short stories...

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“Involuntary Deconstructionism”: Paradoxa Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 32-45

Jonathan Lethem has snuck up on the literary establishment from the underside. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, was part science fiction, part hardboiled detective novel; later books have paid due to other reaches of what is called genre writing, while dodging easy labels themselves. This...

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The Art of Fiction No. 177: Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 46-68

Jonathan Lethem was born in 1964, the son of the painter Richard Lethem and the late political activist Judith Lethem. His first three novels earned him a following among readers of crime novels and science fiction, and a reputation among readers of experimental novels as a pasticheur whose...

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An Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 69-77

I want to find a way to go through this book, since a lot of people are talking about it but it seems to me that they’re missing a lot of things. In the final pages of the book Jonathan talks about a kind of happier place. The book has been about neighborhoods, neighborhoods in Brooklyn...

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Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 78-99

Like every single person you’ve ever interviewed, I was a voracious reader. I grew up in an artist’s household. My father was a painter. It was in the air. It was my family’s milieu. My first memories are in his studio watching him paint. My mother was a great reader, a bohemian, and a brilliant...

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A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 100-115

Jonathan Lethem is the author of six novels, including The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, the latter of which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named novel of the year by Esquire. He is also the author of two short story collections and one volume of essays, and his writings have...

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Birnbaum v. Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 116-132

On any given weekend in the summer, the literary population of metro New York is significantly diminished and, consequently, Maine’s is swollen by an inexorable seasonal exodus. As I live in Exeter, N.H., just off Interstate 95, which is a major artery twixt God’s own cement and what many claim...

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Seattlest Interview: Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 133-140

Jonathan Lethem understands what being an unabashed fan feels like, and we are an unabashed, dorky fan of his many books and recent essays. When we heard that he is non-exclusively sharing some of his short stories for $1 to be reused in other works of art (films, songs, etc.) and he is giving away the...

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An Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 141-148

From KCRW Santa Monica, I’m Michael Silverblatt and this is Bookworm. Today I’m happy to have as my guest Jonathan Lethem, whose new novel You Don’t Love Me Yet has just been published by Doubleday. He’s the author as well, to talk about the books in the latter half of his career so far, of...

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Jonathan Lethem and Lydia Millet

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pp. 149-157

Lethem, who won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his fifth novel Motherless Brooklyn, grew up in Brooklyn and Kansas City and trained as a painter before turning to writing in his early twenties. Recently he’s offered some of his short stories for free to filmmakers and others who wish to...

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“If Dean Street Could Talk”: Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 158-164

Jonathan Lethem isn’t just any Brooklyn writer—he grew up there, on Dean Street, between Bond and Nevins specifically. This is well known, of course, and this geographical fact defined the forty-five-year-old’s most celebrated work, the Tourettec tour-Detective-force Motherless Brooklyn (1999), and...

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The Rumpus Long Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 165-174

Jonathan Lethem’s new book, Chronic City, is so damn big it’s overstuffed; or that’s what Michiko Kakutani says. Fair enough: It’s at different times to different strengths concerned by technology, space, local government, war; there is then a fear of the false, a fear of the real, the fear of all components of...

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An Interview with Jonathan Lethem

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pp. 175-182

I like that description. I think it is a collision and a recapitulation of in some ways everything I feel I can do. Well, one source you mentioned was I reencountered Philip K. Dick reading the books to edit them for the Library of America. I had been relying on, you know, twenty-five- and thirty-year-old memories...


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pp. 183-191

E-ISBN-13: 9781604739640
E-ISBN-10: 1604739649
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604739633
Print-ISBN-10: 1604739630

Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Literary Conversations Series

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Subject Headings

  • Lethem, Jonathan -- Interviews.
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Interviews
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