Friday, February 19, 2010


A recommendation from Silenus, and a great one. Fortress of Solitude is a gigantic novel about race, urban blight, gentrification, pop culture, prison, comic books, public school, stereotypes, sexual awakening, soul music, punk rock, art rock, and drugs. I suppose you could call it magical realism, because entwined in its otherwise gritty and realistic plot line you'll find a magic ring right out of Tolkien. But you'll also find kids tagging subway cars, references to (and an appearance by Stan Brakhage), the Prisonaires, the Hugo Award, the Gormenghast trilogy--I mean, yeah I could go on. Some of these young gun novelists like to show off the depth and breadth of their interests by cramming everything in: Lethem does it effortlessly.

I have to spend some time puzzling out my thoughts about this novel, because so much of it strikes right at the heart of what I do professionally now, and what I deal with in my new neighborhood. There's a lot here about white liberal guilt, and about urban hopelessness, that needs serious consideration. I'll read it again some day, and will recommend it to you.


Anonymous said...

this sounds interesting, and I was looking for a new one to read... do you think I would like it?

:) jv

Nyarlathotep said...

I think you would. It's beastly long (500+ pages) but it's all about pre-gentrification Brooklyn. Might be up your alley, but it's a commitment of time!

Silenus said...

It's all about Barrett Rude Jr - "My man Dylan! Keepin' his shit TOGETHER!"

This was probably the best book I read last year but it speaks to young urban semi-professional liberals.

Glad you liked it dude!

I'm gonna shoot you an e-mail soon. I had an interview in Baltimore on Friday and if I get the job I'll probably be moving back.