Our next guest on Copper Robot is novelist Jonathan Lethem, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the MacArthur “genius grant.” Lethem is author of Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn. His latest novel, Chronic City, features a fictionalized version of Second Life. We’ll talk with Jonathan about Second Life, books, writing, Brooklyn, and more.
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 17, 6 pm Pacific Time/Second Life Time
Lethem’s best-known novels put a fantastic spin on contemporary life in Brooklyn, where he was born and lived much of his life. Motherless Brooklyn is a funny and poignant story about a petty criminal with Tourette’s Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder who solves the murder of his beloved boss. Fortress of Solitude is a realistic coming-of-age novel about a boy growing up in Brooklyn around 1970, that becomes a fantasy novel when the boy discovers a magic artifact that gives him superpowers.
In his latest novel, Chronic City, Lethem goes across the river to Manhattan, to tell the story of Chase Insteadman, a directionless former child star living on residuals from his 80s TV show. Chase meets up with Perkus Tooth, a half-mad pop-culture critic, and they forge a peculiar friendship around marijuana, hamburgers, and Tooth’s bizarre theories. A fictionalized version of Second Life is important to the novel. In Chronic City, Second Life is called “Yet Another Life,” and it fits in with a major theme of the novel, which is that none of the characters know what’s real and what isn’t. I loved Chronic City, and reviewed it here. Also, Wagner James Au interviews Lethem about the Second Life connection.
Much of Lethem’s work is science-fictional. Gun With Occasional Music is a hard-boiled detective story featuring talking animals, made intelligent using “evolution therapy.” Amnesia Moon takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, and Girl In Landscape tells the story of a colonist on another planet.
See you Sunday for what’s sure to be a fascinating conversation.