Customer Reviews for

Motherless Brooklyn

Average Rating 4.5
( 46 )
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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 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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  • 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 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 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 June 13, 2000

    'Motherless Brooklyn' is a book you cannot put down.

    'Motherless Brooklyn' is a joy to read....very funny in parts.....I would hope the author, Jonathan Lethem would write another book with the charactor Mr. Essrog in it....excellent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2000

    Wonderfully written,a very charismatic character

    Lethem really grabs the attention of the reader and without pause sinks us right deep into the story. From the beginning to end and throughout the development of characters and plot we are captivated by the story and the narrative itself. Sarcastic and humorous at times. Very enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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