The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye

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Overview


A dead man is brought back to life so he can support his family in "The Happy Man"; occasionally he slips into a zombielike state while his soul is tortured in Hell. In "Vanilla Dunk," future basketball players are given the skills of old-time stars like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. And in "Forever, Said the Duck," stored computer personalities scheme to break free of their owners.

In these and other stories in this striking collection, Jonathan Lethem, author of The ...

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Overview


A dead man is brought back to life so he can support his family in "The Happy Man"; occasionally he slips into a zombielike state while his soul is tortured in Hell. In "Vanilla Dunk," future basketball players are given the skills of old-time stars like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. And in "Forever, Said the Duck," stored computer personalities scheme to break free of their owners.

In these and other stories in this striking collection, Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, draws the reader ever more deeply into his strange, unforgettable world—a trip from which there may be no easy return.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When this book was first published, Jonathan Lethem was still relatively unknown, although his first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, had already been named as a finalist for the 1994 Nebula Award. Since then, this New York City-based writer has become something of a cult figure, with an diverse following that reviewers have compared to that of Borges and Burroughs. Though it's an early work, this collection justifies such heady comparisons. Even diehard skeptics will be won over by stories like "The Happy Man," "Vanilla Dunk," and "Forever, Said the Duck."
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR JONATHAN LETHEM

"One of the most fertile imaginations among America’s young writers."—SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"An author to be reckoned with."—NEWSWEEK

Kirkus Reviews
Seven long stories—five reprints, two originals—from the author of Amnesia Moon (1995), etc. In "The Happy Man," a dead man is brought back to life so he can support his family. Occasionally he subsides into a zombielike state while his soul is tortured in Hell: There's a plot payoff, but savvy readers will see it coming miles away. Future basketball players are given the skills of old-time stars like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, in "Vanilla Dunk." A crack addict in "Light and the Sufferer" rips off his dealer, only to receive the baffling attentions of a curious and invulnerable alien. Stored computer personalities scheme to break free of their owners in "Forever, Said the Duck." In "The Hardened Criminals," convicts, crushed and plasticized, are used as building blocks for prisons. Of the two original entries, "Five Fucks" recounts how a woman who spends the night with a strange man finds that two weeks have passed in the outside world. This intriguing existential conundrum rapidly degenerates, however, into futile solipsism. And in "Sleepy People" the older generation gathers in bars to form militias, while amiable young hooligans lackadaisically terrorize the neighborhood, and some people mysteriously just sleep.

Striking and fascinating though these ideas may be, Lethem often undermines their significance with bizarre, irrational, or meaningless developments. Frown, shrug, pass on.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156032483
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 306
  • Sales rank: 1,395,195
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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.

Biography

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

Table of Contents

The Happy Man 1
Vanilla Dunk 67
Light and the Sufferer 121
Forever, Said the Duck 171
Five Fucks 189
The Hardened Criminals 219
Sleepy People 267
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