Amnesia Moon [NOOK Book]


In Jonathan Lethem's wryly funny second novel, we meet a young man named Chaos, who's living in a movie theater in post-apocalyptic Wyoming, drinking alcohol, and eating food out of cans.

It's an unusual and at times unbearable existence, but Chaos soon discovers that his post-nuclear reality may have no connection to the truth. So he takes to the road with a girl named Melinda in order to find answers. As the pair travels through the United ...
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Amnesia Moon

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In Jonathan Lethem's wryly funny second novel, we meet a young man named Chaos, who's living in a movie theater in post-apocalyptic Wyoming, drinking alcohol, and eating food out of cans.

It's an unusual and at times unbearable existence, but Chaos soon discovers that his post-nuclear reality may have no connection to the truth. So he takes to the road with a girl named Melinda in order to find answers. As the pair travels through the United States they find that, while each town has been affected differently by the mysterious source of the apocalypse, none of the people they meet can fill in their incomplete memories or answer their questions. Gradually, figures from Chaos's past, including some who appear only under the influence of intravenously administered drugs, make Chaos remember some of his forgotten life as a man named Moon.

Since the war and the bombs, Hatfork is a sick town--full of mutants and sexual deviants. Chaos lives in the projection booth in the abandoned Multiplex, trying to remember his past. With a fur-covered girl named Melinda, Chaos sets out on a journey in pursuit of his missing identity. A stolen love will pull Chaos and Melinda deep into a kaleidoscope of broken reality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lethem's post-apocalyptic vision reflects American culture as if in a funhouse mirror in this strong follow-up to Gun, with Occasional Music. Televangelists have become actual robots, dog food is the cuisine of choice and the soap operas star government figures-all making for a confusing world for Everett, aka Chaos, who lives in a movie-projection room in Wyoming, drinking a liquor ``that amounted to rubbing alcohol.'' Fleeing his projection booth with Melinda, who's ``covered with fine, silky hair from head to foot,'' Chaos discovers that he is a ``dreamer,'' one whose dreams can remake reality. As Chaos and Melinda travel through the U.S., they find that, while each town has been affected differently by the mysterious source of the apocalypse, none can fill in their incomplete memories or answer their questions. Alighting in Vacaville, where everything is determined by ``luck tests,'' Chaos and Melinda settle into family life with a woman and her two children. But figures from his past, including some who appear only under the influence of intravenously administered drugs, draw Chaos into discovering that past-and into making more active use of his dream powers. The author draws each stop on Chaos's journey with care, including a supremely decadent San Francisco and a Los Angeles overrun with aliens, bringing to life all the horror and confusion inherent in his future world. At its heart, this novel remains a simple story-the search for identity, the search for family-but Lethem uses it successfully as a springboard for both a commentary on American culture and a convincing portrait of his main character. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
A young man named Chaos sets out on a journey across a shattered America to search for the truth that lies behind his fragmented dreams. From Hatfork, Wyoming, a desert town populated by genetic mutants, to the Strip, where perpetual fast food establishments exist in a cultural vacuum, Chaos begins to piece together a history of the breakdown of reality. The author of Gun, with Occasional Music (LJ 2/15/94) embues his second novel with a breathtaking vision of a world in flux. Lethem's prose is as flexible and memorable as the evocative story he tells. Most libraries will want this foray into speculative fiction for their sf collections.
Carl Hays
Lethem follows his critically acclaimed crime novel pastiche, "Gun with Occasional Music" 1994, with a strikingly different vision of a postapocalyptic U.S. Chaos is an introverted occupant of a run-down movie theater in Hatfork, Wyoming, who is surrounded by mutant locals and living on canned food until he suspects that the local tyrant, Kellogg, has lied about the bombs that have supposedly destroyed the rest of the country. After stealing Kellogg's car and taking to the highway with a fur-covered runaway girl, Chaos discovers that each new town he comes to is afflicted with its own form of insanity, manifested by mass symptoms ranging from an imaginary, blinding green mist to an obsession with luck. Returning to his native San Francisco, Chaos suddenly remembers his previous identity as a man named Moon and discovers the power his own dreams can have to cure the madness around him. In a remarkable display of versatility, Lethem tempers a liberal dose of quirky surrealism with interesting, believable characterizations and a compelling, imaginative story line.
From the Publisher

"A hip, updated conflation of Harlan Ellison's A Boy and His Dog and Jim Thompson's The Alcoholics. Jonathan Lethem escorts us down an impossibly post-terminal Route 66, kicking and screaming and loving every minute of it." - BARRY GIFFORD, author of WILD AT HEART

"An author to be reckoned with . . . A social critic, a sardonic satirist like the Walker Percy of Love in the Ruins. But with Amnesia Moon, Lethem slips out of the shadow of his predecessors to deliver a droll, downbeat vision that is both original and persuasive." -NEWSWEEK

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547536927
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 378,730
  • File size: 341 KB

Meet the Author

Jonathan  Lethem

JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of six novels, including Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Gun, with Occasional Music. He lives in Brooklyn.


The son of artists and activists, Jonathan Lethem has always been surrounded by art and archetypes. His father, avant-garde painter Richard Brown Lethem, ensured that the household was always bustling with fellow artists, live nude models, and a creative spirit. Despite the nurturing, artistic setting, Lethem's teen years were demanding -- his mother died of cancer when he was 14, and the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood forced him to toughen up at a young age.

Lethem's Brooklyn is rich with history and stories. Much of the world knows Brooklyn through the movies and television -- as an urban maze just outside the glitter of Manhattan. But Lethem's novels deliver a more emotional and brutal reality of the streets he called home (and still does). The Brooklyn culture of his childhood became the sidewalk on which he built his critically acclaimed Motherless Brooklyn, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem attended the High School for Music and Art in NYC, where he studied painting but began to hone his love of literature. An insatiable reader, he read the classic and the contemporary, including Kerouac, Mailer, Vonnegut, Chandler, Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Kafka. While still in high school, he finished a 125-page novel called Heroes. It was never published but is rumored to be the earliest form of what became The Fortress of Solitude.

After high school, Lethem attended Bennington College in Vermont but dropped out after the first semester to work on his writing. He returned to Bennington briefly, but eventually made the move to California, hitchhiking his way across the country to arrive in Berkeley in 1984. This experience, and the years he spent in San Francisco, provided the inspiration for his first three novels, Amnesia Moon(1995), As She Climbed Across the Table (1997), and Girl in Landscape (1998).

In late 1996, Lethem moved back to Brooklyn and began writing the book that would put him on the lips of every publisher and reader in the country. When Motherless Brooklyn was released in 1999, readers fell in love with its fascinating lead characters, relentless plot, and detailed setting. It was an instant success and won many awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem's long-awaited next novel, The Fortress of Solitude, hit the shelves four years later, in 2003. He conducted a lot of research for the book, gaining yet another perspective on his beloved hometown. The novel is again set in Brooklyn, on Dean Street, where Lethem grew up. Over three decades, the two lead characters -- Dylan and Mingus -- experience the world through the prisms of race relations, music, and pop culture in a disturbing and compelling story of loyalty and loss, vulnerability and superhero powers.

Outside of novels, Lethem has published short fiction and lent his editing talents to a number of projects. Odd and shocking, This Shape We're In (an extended short story) is about an unforgettable trip to the hospital. The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye is a collection of seven short stories about everything from clones to professional basketball. Lethem and coauthor Carter Scholz have fun with the master of the bizarre in Kafka Americana: Fiction, a book of short stories with Kafka as the main character navigating absurd situations. Lethem edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, short stories about the art of forgetting by such authors as Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, and Shirley Jackson. He was guest editor of The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, essays by writers on music.

Good To Know

Lethem's original artistic impulse was to be a painter. While he remains a talented graphic artist, he first acknowledged his deep desire to write while at Bennington, where fellow classmates included Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt.

Before he was a published writer, Lethem's only other jobs were in bookstores. His first bookstore job was at age 13, and he supported himself this way up to 1994 when his first novel was published. In San Francisco, he worked at the well-known Moe's Books, home of rare and antique tomes.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jonathan Allan Lethem (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Left Bennington College after two years

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2000

    brilliance at it's best

    Jonathan lethem once again defys the laws of genre by writing the most original masterpiece I have ever read. Confusion ensues when chaos realizes that his life is not exactly what it seems. Truth drowned out by falsetellings and theorys which make you think(sometihng you don't find in to many books these days). I had to read it twice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 1999

    Creative new realities in textual form!

    Lethem's Amnesia Moon is a brilliant masterpiece which blinds its reader with textual supremacy rivaling that sought by a ten megaton nuclear blast. Like his earlier novel, Gun With Occasional Music, Lethem's Amnesia Moon focuses around a single 'tech noir' hero who sets off on a journey of expectacious wonderment which begins with the fact that Chaos realizes his own reality is simply a fragment which is part of a marvelous post-turn of the Mayan calendar world. Beginning in Hatfork, Wyoming, a town filled with post-apocalyptic mutants the novel takes a sharp turn towards an even more disasterous possible future when the characters realize that they border a green mist. Not simply a Deadlands:Hell on Earth type world, Lethem's myriad of post-apocalyptic realities take on a sort of rainbow like hue, especially when considered against his earlier work, Gun, with Occasional Music. Now Gun, as I like to refer to it, was a melodic masterpiece which, like the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit, deals with surrealistic animal intrusions from other realities beyond our perception and ken. BTW, has anybody noticed how much each of these plots seem to resemble most M:TA campaigns, especially since the journey of Chaos through a transformed neo-apocalyptic New West could easily be seen as the story of the awakening of a neophyte mage and Gun could be seen as about an individual who lives in a world in which out -of-control technologies spawned by the evil Pentex have pushed him to the brink of insanity and to a point where he and his musical gun are increasingly marginalized by the bio-technologically altered critters which surround him in his little world of Forgettol-induced amnesia and hallucinatory states. In fact, its easy sometimes to forget which Jonathan Lethem novel you're reading and drift back in time back into Gun while reading through one's first-print paperback copy of Amnesia Moon. In 1992, when Lethem first brought Gun out it was little noticed, except where I live, where for some reason it recieved widespread critical acclaim, especially from local booksellers in the area. In Amnesia Moon though, Lethem puts a techno spin, as it were, on what could otherwise be seen as a sort of retread concept. All in all, I would consider Amnesia Moon to be an excellent book and one well worth reading, particularly as it occupies an important place in the hallmarks of San Francisco underground literature and is well worth reading in both its hardback and paperback printings. BTW, I not only enjoyed Amnesia Moon, but I also enjoyed hanging out with Lethem on his chat group Head Space on Hotwired and this message is also intended all of you out there know that, centauri is back!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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