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About the Author
JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of several novels, including Motherless Brooklyn; The Fortress of Solitude;Gun, with Occasional Music; and Dissident Gardens.
Hometown:New York, New York
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:Left Bennington College after two years
What People are Saying About This
One thing about Lethem's writing: You're never sure what you're going to get. The seven stories collected here are proof of his ability to deliver the unexpected. They include everything from a future where the dead are brought back if they're needed to support their families, alien creatures that follow around the doomed, a look at near-future basketball that is a harsh indictment of where the sport could end up, and much more. Fascinating stuff.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This collection of short stories from Berkeley-by-way-of-Brooklyn writer Jonathan Lethem explores the same sort of absurdist science fiction landscape as his novel Amnesia Moon. These seven pieces show the depth and breadth of Lethem¿s creativity as he explores the outer reaches of this genre.The stories that were previously printed in Asimov¿s Science Fiction magazine are among the standouts in this collection and speak both to the editor¿s catholic tastes and Lethem¿s ability to inhabit vastly different worlds and report back with chilling clarity.The Happy Man, the lead off tale of a guy who spends half his time in hell and the other half trying to make up with his increasingly distant wife and troubled teenage son, sets the tone for the volume. In this troubling story, the reappearance of a ne¿er-do-well uncle in his Earth-bound life begins to draw the two worlds into closer proximity. Lethem telegraphs his final blow but it is devastating all the same. This story stays with the reader and reveals the barely-disguised malice in our classic fairy tales.Vanilla Dunk, is a slightly futuristic story of professional basketball in a time where the sport is in an advanced state of atrophy and has begun to consume itself like a snake eating its own tail. Powered exosuits give players the sampled skills of the greatest athletes of all time, turning the game into a live fantasy league.Lethem uses the post-sport spectacle to probe the issues of race (when a white hotshot draws the much-vaunted skills of Michael Jordan) and fame like a tongue returning to the socket of a broken tooth. This is quite a different story than The Happy Man and it¿s a testament to Lethem¿s deft touch that one doesn¿t need an understanding, or fondness for that matter, of basketball to enjoy it.Not every story in The Wall of the Eye is a slam dunk, but the penultimate tale, The Hardened Criminals, shows what an incredible imagination Lethem possesses. To give away the story¿s main conceit would be a crime in and of itself, but it ends up being a chilling indictment of the prison industry and the way that it is set up to strip away the humanity of those stupid, crazy, or unlucky enough to fall under its purview. Lethem is a prolific novelist as well as short story writer and at times his prose reads dangerously close to poetry as in this introduction of the prison in The Hardened Criminals: The prison was an accomplishment, a monument to human ingenuity, like a dam or an aircraft carrier. At the same time the prison was a disaster, something imposed by nature on the helpless city, a pit gouged by a meteorite, or a forest-fire scar.
I like that way Nancy Pearl describes Lethem's style of writing. Basically she says (in Book Lust) you never get the same book twice. Even within his short stories in The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye you don't get the same short story twice. Nothing is the same. Even the style of writing is different. Like a box of chocolates with only one candy containing chocolate...Here's a list of the short stories:The Happy Man ~ a weird sort of deal-with-the-devil story about a man who is dead, but isn't.Vanilla Drunk ~ a story that mentions Michael Jordan over 40 times.Light and the Sufferer ~ brothers, an alien, drugs and New York City. What's not to love?Forever, Said the Duck ~ a virtual party where virtually no one is who they say they are.Five Fukcs ~ I have no idea how to describe this story. It's all about getting screwed over...The Hardened Criminal ~ a very strange story about a man who ends up in the same prison cell as his father...only his father is built into the cement wall.Sleepy People ~ there is a group of people who sleep through anything...including sex.
Dark and devious, insightful and enthralling. My favorite story is Hardened Criminals. I think it is a brilliant way to deter crime.