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.