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Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest

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Although the publisher says this novel is not a post-apocalyptic or dystopian story, Lethem not only makes Journeyman an expert on post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, he gives the duo a “pet project, one of Todbaum’s supply of ‘killer pitches,’” a science fiction movie called Yet Another World. ….Todbaum wants Journeyman to pillage scenes for Yet Another World from Walter Tevis’s book Mockingbird, and other books like Earth Abides, Dr. Bloodmoney, Station Eleven, and A Canticle for Leibowitz, and pilfer dystopian scenes from writers like Riddley Walker, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, and Stephen King. Pilfering, modifying, and referencing dystopian scenes is pretty much what Lethem does in his book. Readers might get a literary rush out of Lethem’s dropping the names of long-time acknowledged heavyweight champs like Vonnegut, Atwood, and King. But it was probably even more fun for Lethem, through Todbaum, to take a shot at old Cormac McCarthy and his dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel The Road. McCarthy’s fans probably won’t like reading: “If McCarthy were honest, he’d admit he wrote a campfire story, Sandman. Instead he inserts all this Old Testament horseshit. The world’s reduced and cleansed, the ambiguity scrubbed out.” Lethem’s is no country for old men.

You can read my review of Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest in The Brooklyn Rail by clicking the image below.

You can buy Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest at Barnes & Noble.

Written by Joe Peschel

December 15th, 2020 at 7:55 am