The Fortress Of Solitude

The Fortress Of Solitude

author: Jonathan Lethem

name: Steev

average rating: 3.87

book published: 2003

rating: 5

read at: 2009/12/28

date added: 2009/12/29

shelves: fun, novels, own-it

This novel is mostly about race. It's about a little white kid with hippy/artist parents who grows up in a black/brown neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 70s/80s. It's also about gentrification, about class and privilege, about subcultures and "cool" and about music and music fans.

I liked the book a lot. The main character was probably born about 3 to 5 years before me, and I grew up in a totally different sort of environment, and my parents are pretty different than his, but still their was lots of common ground that resonated strongly for me. The yearning to fit in as a kid, the struggle with difference, the urge to re-invent oneself with each new school and grade, and then the relentless struggle as an adult to deal with the damage leftover from childhood. These were the serious issues. then were were all the wonderful fun things in the book like discovering new music, the stuff about art and film and science fiction and comic books and graffiti.

The book is sad and infuriating and touching but also riveting and thrilling, and I was constantly wondering how much of it is autobiographically based. A lot of it must be, and I could feel that the power of the story must come in large part from the connection to Lethem's real travails as a motherless white boy growing up in New York City.

Lethem's style is really skillful and brilliant too. His writing is full of really adept imagery and metaphor that is fresh and yet immediately understandable. Perhaps this is a function, again, of my similar age, but I think he also is just very very good. His writing is in the vein of authors like Pynchon and DeLillo but with a street-smart, generation-X perspective.