Customer Reviews for

Motherless Brooklyn

Average Rating 4.5
( 46 )
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5 Star

(25)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Unique New York!

I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this novel. It's clever, funny, original, and above all, it has a big, big heart. Lethem presents his characters with such compassion and wit, I couldn't put it down. Lionel's Tourettic outbursts make this novel especiall...
I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this novel. It's clever, funny, original, and above all, it has a big, big heart. Lethem presents his characters with such compassion and wit, I couldn't put it down. Lionel's Tourettic outbursts make this novel especially memorable. I highly recommend it.

posted by Anonymous on September 27, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Fun reading

While slightly disappointed in the story development, I enjoyed the freshness of the vocabulary. The author loves words and knows how to string them together into a linguistic feast.

posted by Anonymous on September 15, 2006

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic Writing

    This book is one of my all-time favorites. Jonathan Lethem really takes you in with this novel about a man with tourette's trying to track down his mentor's killer.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2005

    Unique New York!

    I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this novel. It's clever, funny, original, and above all, it has a big, big heart. Lethem presents his characters with such compassion and wit, I couldn't put it down. Lionel's Tourettic outbursts make this novel especially memorable. I highly recommend it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book for Every Reader

    The kind of book people kept on asking me "is that book that funny?" Its one of the funniest books with a great story line, awesome great characters, I have read in a long time long long time. Hilarious, suspenseful and at times sad. Great book. I already bought this as a gift three items and all of them loved it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    Detective Novel of Unsurpassed Quality

    Johnathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn is easily one of the best novels of detective fiction ever written. All of the characters are incredible, especially Lionel. Highly recommended for those who like both detective fiction and fiction. This is fiction at its best, folks.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2005

    I love Lionel Essrog! What a character!

    I love this book! I enjoyed reading it so much, I missed my stop on lightrail not once, but THREE times in one week because I was so engrossed in the story. Lionel Essrog is one of the most amusing and endearing characters I've met in a book in a long time. READ THIS BOOK!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Reads like a movie!

    This is an excellent and very different story about Bklyn with a very colorful group of characters. A funny and gritty story I have read many times. I truly hope it becomes a movie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    Detective novel with witty, well-written inner dialogue

    "Motherless Brooklyn" is written in a style reminiscent of old-fashioned hard-boiled crime novels with fast-paced action and witty dialogue. The protagonist, Lionel Essrog, has Tourette's syndrome and also compulsively needs to count and touch things. Lionel, an orphan since birth, was taken under the wing of a local mafia-man, Frank Minna, who is murdered. There is a manhunt, tics, more tics, involvement with the Mafia and some wild twists and turns. Although the plot line of the mystery itself is average, the writing is so unique and excellent that I think it overcomes the plot deficiencies toward the end of the novel. There is a lot of internal dialogue throughout the novel and Lethem uses language in incredibly inventive ways to convey what is going on in Lionel's head immediately preceding a Tourette's tic. Motherless Brooklyn is probably best described as a cross between a literary novel and detective novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    This book gives a gemlike view of a small neighborhood in Brooklyn. The wordplay is absolutely wonderful.

    Our book group read this novel and we had a great discussion. The book is compelling and you want to read more. At the same time, it is fun to stop and enjoy the language.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2006

    Fun reading

    While slightly disappointed in the story development, I enjoyed the freshness of the vocabulary. The author loves words and knows how to string them together into a linguistic feast.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    Impressive, funny, well-written

    I enjoyed reading this book up until the last few pages. It could, and maybe should, have been twice the length. The main character is unwittingly humorous, intelligent, naive, kind, and criminal. Motherless Brooklyn is one of the most inventive approaches to a mystery in years, even if the ending is flat and unsatisfying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2004

    Don't read this in public....

    ...unless you can tolerate people staring at you for laughing uproariously. I about died laughing!!! I almost couldn't read it in bed for fear of keeping my husband awake with my giggles! Odd uses of language are extremely humorous to me, and Lionel Essrog's gramatically incorrect outburts are hilarious (the one drawback is that he does have a valid handicap and I felt terrible about finding Tourette's Syndrome so funny, but it's obviously the author's intent.) Great for a laugh and a fairly interesting mystery plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2003

    Surprisingly Fantastic

    Well written, thoughtful, intuitive and funny. A favorite book of myself and many of my friends. The best book I have read in a long time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2002

    Characterization reveals intolerance

    ¿Motherless Brooklyn¿ by Jonathan Lethem is about four orphans who are picked up by Frank Minna in their adolescent years. The four boys live at the St. Vincent¿s Home for Boys in Brooklyn, New York. One of the boys, Lionel Essrog, has Tourette¿s syndrome. He has these impulses that cause him to tic and shout out profanities at any given time. When the four boys first meet Frank Minna, they start to work for him at his moving agency. He pays them twenty dollars and returns them to St. Vincent¿s when he is done with them. One day, Minna goes up state and doesn¿t come back for two years. When he does come back, the moving agency is now a detective agency pretending to be a limousine service. The boys are now men and working together as detectives. Frank gets fatally stabbed and when this happens, the four men go through a huge fiasco trying to figure out who murdered him. It is a fact of life that if a person is different, other people will ignore and not tolerate that person; in ¿Motherless Brooklyn,¿ by Jonathan Lethem, a boy grows up being known as a freak and ignored by most people. Lethem uses characterization to develop this theme. Lionel Essrog is the boy that grew up being a freak because of his Tourette¿s. Lethem uses Lionel himself, Frank Minna, other boys from St. Vincent¿s, and other people that don¿t know him to reveal the theme. One particular thought from Lionel makes this theme very clear, ¿Tourette¿s teaches you what people will ignore and forget, teaches you to see the reality-knitting mechanism people employ to tuck away the intolerable, the incongruous, the disruptive¿it teaches you this because you¿re the one lobbing the intolerable, incongruous, and disruptive their way¿ (43). Frank is always calling him a freakshow and when he constantly bursts out, he will tell him to cut it out and shut up. The other boys at St. Vincent¿s threaten to beat him up because he tries to touch them and kiss them, but he can¿t help it. They lower his self-esteem and make him feel like a nobody. He spends most of his days in St. Vincent¿s library reading because he can¿t do anything with the other boys without being labeled as different. Lethem succeeds in stating and proving his theme that it is the sad truth to the world that people have grown up in and are still living in today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2002

    Best Read of 2001

    Motherless Brooklyn was the best and final read of 2001 for me. Lethem has a pretty amazing imagination to create a plot involving two-bit thugs, Zen, a Polish giant, orphans, and Tourettes, set it beautiful ungentrified Brooklyn. The book's language was interesting, well-crafted, and so funny I laughed out loud on the subway. To me, Essrog ranks up there as one of the best central characters in fiction. I loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2001

    Superb Brooklyn

    This is a most amazing book, so superbly written that only one paragraph in the entire book could be improved! Lethem writes the most perfect book as Annie Dillard did, when at 26, she wrote, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek.The similarity is not in the topic but in its excellence and in sensing writers at their utmost best. I laughed, pondered life's difficult moments, enjoyed the well- crafted story, and was overwhelmed. It is rare to find such great books but this is surely one of them. In short, I bought six copies and gave them to friends and colleagues. It is that superb!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2001

    Superb

    One of the most excellent books I have ever read. For something fresh and interesting in your library, be sure and add this book. I fell in LOVE with Lionel and also maybe with Jonathan Lethem for writing this book. It makes me want to go out and IMMEDIATELY read all his other works. I gave this one to a lot of friends. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2001

    A Good Read

    Motherless Brooklyn is the best book I have read in the past 20 years! It's Original, funny and very touching (and human) all at the same time. My only critizism though would be that it is needlessly long in parts (especially Chapt 2). Overall: A great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2001

    Reality in Brooklyn

    Being a physician and one intimately acquainted with the underside of Brooklyn, I can only nod, cry, and freak out with the 'human freak show'. He has the darkness and the seaminess down pat, and the humanity poking it's head up wanting to scream but only sqeaking momentarily. If you want to be amused and bewildered at the same time, read this book, then recommend it to your friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2001

    Motherless Brooklyn

    'Motherless Brooklyn' is amazingly original, heartbreaking, and hilarious. I was left wondering if Jonathan Lethem has Tourette's syndrome himself; his insight into the disease is candid and real.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2001

    Incredible Talent

    Lethem has a fashioned a remarkable story with an amazing and new use of words like no other author. Easily one of the best books I've read in the past year.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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