Gun, with Occasional Music

Gun, with Occasional Music

by Jonathan Lethem

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Gun, with Occasional Music 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
misericordia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't like this book. Just a little to over the edge. The edge of believable? No I read a lot of unbelievable books. Over the edge of possible? No I read a lot of books with impossible things. It just was not my flavor of unbelievable impossibility. Just too many bunnies and babies.
burningtodd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting concept. I enjoy both Hard Boiled detective fiction and Science fiction, so a blending of the 2 should be fantastic. Unfortunately, while interesting and well written, there are parts of this book that drag and seem to lost focus. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, or wouldn't recommend it to others. This book takes place in the far future where questions and the printed word are outlawed and only people that are licensed to do so can ask any question at all. A murder takes place and an innocent man is taken down. When our hero, the private-I, digs around he discovers corruption that goes all the way up the chain. All told a good, not great detective / Sci-fi novel, that makes for an interesting read, but ultimately lacks a good finish.
Move_and_Merge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's essentially a noir private-detective story set in a wildly speculative future California. Hilarious, witty, and intensely disturbing, Lethem's future landscape is populated by human infant 'babyheads' who've undergone evolution therapy. Certain animals who have also undergone the treatment walk upright and possess the rights of legal personhood. Unlicensed questions are considered impolite and border upon the illegal. The Inquisitor's Bureau runs a semi-Orwellian police state in which state-sponsored drugs are the nose candies of the average citizen and a defunct karma-card earns you a spot in the freezer. Whats's more, the protagonist's sense of metaphor is flawless. It's entirely possible that this novel inspired Radiohead's 'Karma Police' and I'm virtually certain that Robert Shearman borrowed some of its major ideas and feelings for his 'Maltese Penguin' script.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cool original ideas, cool plot, funny and dark
mathrocks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As others have written, this is a sci-fi noir detective novel, complete with intelligent animals and Raymond Chandler cliches in a dystopian future. One is reminded of Philip Dick, William Gibson, and Roger Rabbit, all in the voice of a nouveau Raymond Chandler. Apart from being outrageous and fun, one also thinks of it as warning about how quickly the world can change, and not for the better. One of the most novel ideas is that in this future it is forbidden to ask questions, except for police and the rare private eye. This is one of Lethem's better books.
g026r on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll admit, I have a hard time with hardboiled private investigator pastiches, in that frequently I find the prose overwrought to the point of unreadability. Even if I don't generally enjoy his work, Lethem is a (IMO) a better writer than most who attempt it however, and the prose never quite sinks into the usual cliches and heavy-handedness that so many other pastiches do.My problem with it more fell into the line that I didn't really think the plot itself was very compelling: standard private investigator plot, with a final twist/revelation you can see coming from far off, combined with very '90s sci-fi elements that only serve to make it feel dated and diminish any attempt at social commentary it may have had.Onto the "sell" pile it likely goes.
jorgearanda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic dialogue. Follows all the conventions of noir, except of course for the inclusion of karma points as a means to control society, the monstrously adult babies, and the bad-mouthed, gun-happy kangaroo.
PaulBerauer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Gun, with occasional music" follows private detective Conrad Metcalf in his investigation into just what happened to his former murdered boss, especially after the supposed murderer hires Metcalf to clear his name. The book is certainly an interesting take on the classic noir, with the dystopian near-future world adding a certain amount of flair.However, the addition of mind altering drugs, highly evolved animals and strange, partially grown baby-things, while interesting, only distracts from the main story. In fact, a lot of times it seems almost an after fact, as if Jonathan Lethem threw them in just to make his book seem more like science fiction than than a normal crime noir.Overall, an interest book, and one you should check out if you like sci-fi and crime noir.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gun, with Occasional Music is the perfect off-balance title for this novel. Its tightrope walk of the really weird and the really normal was a lot of fun. Predictable in the extreme though and that¿s why the ½ point deduction. The adherence to the noir detective novel was textbook. The opening scene featured a shabby PI in his shabby office. A little aside involving the phone and calling his own number to make sure it still worked was right out of the Chandler/Spillane handbook. In a way it was fun to see how many of the clichés he could hit and he pretty much hit all of them. The temping dames. The double-crosses. The menacing cops. The beatings. All there and in perfect order.The elements of the dystopian future were quite unsettling. I wondered how society or commerce could function at all with people loading up on state-sanctioned Forgettal and Acceptal (laced with appropriate amounts of Addictal). At first, people had to employ notepads to keep track of vital details like their names and addresses. How the hell could they remember their jobs? Jokes of one surgeon asking another if he remembered where the appendix is went through my head like lightning. Crazy. When the PI wakes from his 6-year freezing sentence, the blend has switched to pure Forgettal with an Addictal boost.All of this to keep the Karma quotient high and functioning. Mandated good acts force everyone to keep their karma card with them at all times. Irritated Inquisitors (now that name dredges up some interesting ideas and a bit of Monty Python) can deduct karma points at will and without valid reason. Get too low and you can be hauled away for freezing or electronics-induced slavery in one of the many flesh emporiums that are always hungry for new bodies. News is no longer delivered with any rational sense. Your first dose is a musical rendition of the news. Philip Glass channeling Walter Cronkite I guess. Exactly what you were supposed to glean from this is anyone¿s guess. If you really needed more, you could listen to the talking heads spout nonsense. All I could think of was that beer commercial with the news crew who just wants to break for a cold one. The anchor looks into the camera and says something like ¿Europe¿ , ¿The Economy¿ and ¿The President¿, the weather girl says ¿Sunny!¿ and the sports guy says ¿16 to 10¿, ¿76 to 64¿ and ¿tied¿ and then they scatter. That must be what the spoken news is like because ideas are verboten and printing is outlawed. In the end, even questions and speech are karma reducing offenses that no one indulges in anymore. What a world for a PI to have to live in. Luckily he has is Forgettal.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The conceit is an interesting one: a hard-boiled detective story set in a near future where ¿evolved¿ talking, dressed, career-driven animals are the norm, punishment for crimes consists of cold storage (literally), and asking questions is terribly rude unless you have an investigator¿s license. However, the execution leaves a little to be desired. Why wouldn¿t an evolved animal, such as a kangaroo, make use of its assets more when in a tight spot, such as those killer feet? What significance does crime-solving have in a world where you can forget the day¿s events by snorting the legal and encouraged drug Forgettol? Or maybe the hard-boiled detective novel doesn¿t really hold my interest under any circumstances. Regardless, this one is entertaining enough for a throwaway novel, which is all it aims to be.
jediphil683 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Certainly one of the more gleefully weird books I've come across in the remaindered section. I think he relies on his idea to carry his writing a little more than he should, but it's a strong idea, so we should forgive him for that, and enjoy reading the book anyway.
reverends on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lethem's novel "Gun, With Occasional Music" still remains my favorite work of his, as he manages to master a genre so few others have, the Future-Noir. Most writters tend to simply put their hero in a cyberpunk future and slap a hat and trenchcoat on them, but Lethem actually creates a future landscape that feels both old and new, a confused era where technological advancements also seem like steps backward.Much like the good old days of of the 50's, when elaborate Labor Saving Devices and Technical Marvels to Simplify Life flooded a market hungry for luxury, Lethem creates a reality where psychological comfort is the main goal. Less Orwellian than it is Feel-Good Legislation run amok, Letham's world has outlawed questions and reading, removed facts and words from news reports, and placed karmic justice under government control. This world is a happy place, like it or not, and it is illegal to rock the boat. Of, course, this sort of environment is no place for a detective, and that is where the true appeal of Gun shines through. A man totally out of his element, a private eye in a world where no one wants answers, he's a character that most people can identify with on some levels, a man who clings to a purpose that society has decided to make obsolete. If any detective deserves his own series, this one does.Add to this Letham's excellent writting style, with his ability to crank out memorable descriptions and lines of dialogue that will claw at your skull long after you put the book down, and you have a novel you'll be recommending to friends for years to come. "Gun, With Occasional Music" belongs on the top of any reading list.
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It was an okay read. There were a lot of random things that the story could have done without.
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Toby_Gray More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Lethem tackles reality on a vector, not unlike how Kurt Vonnegut did, and with perpetual wry charm. In the future world herein portrayed, criminals are frozen rather than imprisoned, and thawed years down the road for a second chance. "Evolved" animals combine human intellect with their native animal characteristics. Lethem's main character, a human private detective, has as his nemesis a brutal kangaroo. Quite a kick! Chronic City and As She Climbed Across the Table are other Lethem favorites of mine.
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crazylilcuban More than 1 year ago
An excellent, excellent book. "Gun, with Occasional Music" is a sci-fi noir detective novel with a little bit of a dystopian future thrown in for good measure. Set in near-future Oakland, the book revolves around Private Inquisistor Conrad Metcalf in a time when questions are rude and require a license to ask, mind-altering drugs are provided by some semblance of a government, and evolution therapy means that babies become babyheads with their own culture and intelligence and that animals can be evolved to walk on two feet and hold conversation. There's even a gangster kangaroo and an ape P.I. Bad guys can be frozen to do their time, and guns sometimes come with occasional music. Clearly there's a bit of sci-fi involved in the premise, but it's great because it's hardly noticeable within the great detective story. There's a nice twist at the end, and all in all the book is a great read. Not five stars, but not too shabby at all. Ultimately, I thought Lethem's writing was just fantastic; the book sat on the edge between a fairly light-hearted mystery and social commentary, and his writing both kept me involved in the story and moved it along quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago