Friday, March 09, 2012

Jonathan Lethem I am begging you.

Dear Jonathan Lethem,

Today my friend mentioned a new crime novel he is loving by Jess Walter, so it's got to be The Zero or Citizen Vance, since The Financial Lives of the Poets is not a crime novel, and Beautiful Ruins is, apparently, not yet published. Anyway, I put those books on order at the library and/or through amazon, despite this reservation:

"I'm reluctant to commit to anything that's not a series," I said. It might have seemed like I was joking, or half-joking. But in reality, I was not joking at all. Once you get a good detective, you kind of like to stick with him or her--his style of damage, her habits of recklessness, his states of mind, her voice. And this brings me to you, Jonathan Lethem. You and Motherless Brooklyn.

Perhaps you are not aware of how great that book was. Well, it was really great. Here, let me remind you:

from the google books version of motherless brooklyn

When one has exhausted, or nearly, one's police procedurals, one's detective novels, series all, one turns longingly to the detective novels of one's past. For instance, Motherless Brooklyn, with its Minna's Men,
and Lionel "Freakshow" Essrog in particular.

Jonathan--may I call you Jonathan? no?--Mr. Lethem, why is there no Lionel "Freakshow" Essrog series? This character--this voice--so entirely unlike any other--and the opportunities the novel left for this character--not worn out, not at all. I long for another story, told in the voice of Lionel. And why couldn't there be one?

Since Motherless Brooklyn was published, you have written three novels, two collections of short stories, three books of nonfiction, and a ten-issue series of comics. No one doubts that you have the serious chops of a full-on literary man. Of course you must write what you are moved to write. But couldn't you check back in with Lionel to see what he might still have to say to you?

wordplay, Essrog-style
Because really, I believe I could not get enough of Lionel Essrog. In fact, I think you could make a series--even an intermittent one--out of Lionel's detective work.

Mr. Lethem, I am just asking: please consider it.




  1. Oh, I want to read this NOW. Excerpts = WOW. My organism doesn't metabolise excess hopelessness, but I'm thinking Lionel may be worth the risk?

  2. It's Land of the Blind by Jess Walter.

  3. McSweeney's open letters? Maybe then Mr. L will read it and comply.

  4. Motherless Brooklyn=one of my favorite books. EVER. Start a petition and I'll sign it.



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