Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The count-up continues...

Book 4: Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

Lethem is very, very clever. Lethem wants to show you how he can combine Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick. Lethem will not really explain why animals can talk, or what babyheads are. Lethem will make you smirk about everyone being addicted to their own specialized drug mixes. Lethem will let you tie that to today’s use of psychotropics and will let you feel smart and superior with minimal effort. But Lethem can’t quite make you believe that, over the course of a six year lapse that happens in this book, wallets and trashcans and guns (see the title!) start making their own music.

I actually liked this book, although I found the world Lethem constructed a little too busy (at least by the point of the singing trashcans... why?). Also, due to the lack of description of the “babyheads” (a class of people messed up by genetic engineering), I kept picturing them all as large-scale baby Stueys. Still, it’s a fun, smart read; I could see this being made into a very intelligent first-person mystery video game quite easily.

I'm now reading a lot of books on music, so expect it to get less respectable around here. I'm almost done with the Belle and Sebastian bio, y'all!