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Monday, April 30, 2012

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

Published April 2011 by Vintage
Format: Paperback
ISBN 9780375724831
311 Pages
Series? No
Warnings: Adult Situations, Language, Character Death
Source: Palomar College Book Store
Challenges: 2012

"Tell your story walking." 

St. Vincent's Home for Boys, Brooklyn, early 1970s. For Lionel Essrog, a.k.a. The Human Freakshow, a victim of Tourette's syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to shout out nonsense, touch every surface in reach, rearrange objects), Frank Minna is a savior. A local tough guy and fixer, Minna shows up to take Lionel and three of his fellow orphans on mysterious errands: they empty a store of stereos as the owner watches; destroy a small amusement park; visit old Italian men. The four grow up to be the Minna Men, a fly-by-night detective agency-cum-limo service, and their days and nights revolve around Frank, the prince of Brooklyn, who glides through life on street smarts, attitude, and secret knowledge. Then one dreadful night, Frank is knifed and thrown into a Dumpster, and Lionel must become a real detective.

As Lionel struggles to find Frank's killer —without letting his Tourette's get in the way— he's forced to delve into the complex, shadowy web of relationships, threats, and favors that make up the Brooklyn world he thought he knew so well. No one—not Frank, not Frank's bitter wife, Julia, not the other Minna Men—is who they seem. Not even The Human Freakshow.

Maybe it is because of the fact that I had not planned to really like this book. It was for school and if I did not enjoy the books that I read last semester with a teacher that I really liked then how could I enjoy a book that was assigned by a teacher who I did not like as much. (Assigning an essay while the class is still reading the book is very bad form.)

Yet against all odds I did like the book. It was interesting and I liked Lionel even if his tics were annoying a first and then seemed to float into the background of my mind for the second half of the book.

It has a lot of time jumps and places in the book where Lionel talks to the readers but even though it does do this it is easy to follow because each chapter is broken up in to a bunch of smaller sections and each section is a new scene so it is not a surprise when it is switched up.

I have never read any other book by Jonathan Lethem so I don't really know how this book compares with his other ones. I have read that this is not his best book so maybe I will like his other books even better. I never know until I try one.

In honor of the essay I now have to write before March 8 I won't write much but I will say that if you like detective stories that have the "criminal" doing the detective work than this is one that you should try. I especially like the fact that it is the minion that has center stage the most interesting when I first looked through the book before class started.

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