Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Quantum Metropolis is Everything You Imagine it To Be: Stalking Tigers, Mythic Record Collections & Metaphysical Ceramics in Lethem's Chronic City

Finished the re-read of the newest by Jonathan Lethem! Who's work spans just about everything in the McSweeney's genre-lexicon of fiction forms, from "Motherless Booklyn" (Modern Noir), "Fortress of Solitude" (Hip Hop/Superhero Pulp), "Amnesia Moon" (Surrealist Road Story), to "Girl in Landscape" (Sc-Fi/Not Sci-Fi) and has again and again been labeled a 'genre bender' of a assimilationist due to his aggressively inventive blending of literary, pulp and popular (read; pop-culture) writing. His newest is an exploration of an alternate reality not unlike that of Michael Chabon's "Yiddish Policeman's Union" in which it's not quite america as we know it, it's not quite Manhattan, New York City as we know it, it's not quite a city that has 'Tigers' running loose, underground tunnel-drilling robots as we know how they work, alternate histories of cinema as we know them, the Criterion Collection offices (again, as we know it - I wish!), the possible lapses into ellipsis depicted may, just may, be visions unto/into another world... possibly our own? Or is "Chronic City" simply the expression of the Quantum Metropolis? From Doubleday: "Chase Insteadman, a handsome, inoffensive fixture on Manhattan’s social scene, lives off residuals earned as a child star on a beloved sitcom called Martyr & Pesty, Chase is adrift, in a vague routine punctuated by Upper East Side dinner parties. Into Chase’s cloistered city enters Perkus Tooth, a wall-eyed free-range pop critic whose soaring conspiratorial riffs are fueled by high-grade marijuana, mammoth cheeseburgers, and a desperate ache for meaning. Perkus’ countercultural savvy and voracious paranoia draw Chase into another Manhattan, where questions of what is real, what is fake, and who is complicit take on a life-shattering urgency. Along with Oona Laszlo, a self-loathing ghostwriter, and Richard Abneg, a hero of the Tompkins Square Park riot now working as a fixer for the billionaire mayor"