Today’s New York Times had a review of Jonathan Lethem’s new book, You Don’t Love Me Yet. I don’t see what the big deal is about Lethem–I thought this book was ably written but lacking vitality, and Motherless Brooklyn made me put it down after about 100 pages because it bored me.
It’s no secret that I like genre fiction, but I also like straight up literary fiction and classic literature. I’m not knocking Lethem because he writes about contemporary people living in big cities–in fact, I’m a contemporary woman who lives in Lethem’s city–but because his writing lacks passion. It’s good, but it’s not alive. Know what I mean? I sometimes wonder if you can love literature so much that you can forget that loving to read is part of it, resulting in books that are technical marvels that practically dare you to keep reading by insinuating if you put it down you’re not hip or cool or smart.
The irony is that I’m putting up this post in the stead of 2 books I read yesterday for work which were installments in a silly popcorn YA series. Why would you want to work so hard to become a writer, only to churn out crap? At least Lethem writes real books. I might think he’s boring, but he’s an honest-to-goodness-writer trying to live by his wits telling stories. I respect him, even though I’m not going to buy his books.
All that said, I’m extremely, extremely impressed with the Promiscuous Materials project. Intellectual property law has become a nightmare these days, and there’s basically no such thing as fair use left in the world, thanks to greedy corporations and overzealous politicians. So it’s really cool to see artists proposing the free interplay of creative ideas within the restrictions that we’re all subject to. And he’s putting his money where his mouth is.