A Gambler's Anatomy is the latest novel from Copyfighting certified genius Jonathan Lethem (previously) -- a book about an international backgammon hustler who believes he is psychic -- and who sports a huge tumor growing from his face. Read the rest
On April 29-30 at Cal State Fullerton, fans, scholars, authors, and artists will celebrate surrealist science fiction author Philip K. Dick with an extravaganza of talks, panels, and exhibits! Special guests include Dr. Ursula Heise, Jonathan Lethem, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock.
Philip K. Dick Conference 2016 Read the rest
It's that time of year again! Welcome to Boing Boing's 2015 Gift Guide, where you'll find toys, books, gadgets and many other splendid ideas to humor and harry your friends and family! Scroll down and buy things, mutants!
It’s hard to imagine what contemporary culture would be like without the existence of the comic, graphic novel, and low-brow art publishers Last Gasp, Fantagraphics, and Canada’s small press darling, Drawn & Quarterly. In Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years, D&Q are given their due. This lavish doorstopper of a book contains numerous historical essays about the company, with lots of great photos, a timeline, reminiscences, interviews, and more. The rest of the book is mainly comprised of full strips and excerpts from some of the many award-winning and pathbreaking comics and graphic novels that D&Q has published over the past quarter century. Some rarely-seen comics are included. Peppered throughout are appreciation essays from the likes of Jonathan Lethem and Margaret Atwood along with many artists appreciating the fellow creators of the delightful devil’s picture books known as comics. Artists featured in the collection include Seth, Julie Doucet, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Tom Gauld, Daniel Clowes, Anders Nilsen, Ariel Bordeaux, and dozens more.
Again, imagine for a minute a world in which the work of these talented artists had never reached the masses, and how far less rich, interesting, and strange our world would be as a result. Congrats to Drawn & Quarterly for bringing these artists to us, for celebrating 25 years of beautiful high weirdness, and for producing this impressive and yummy book. The ink smell of it alone will make a book nerd’s eyes roll back in her head.
See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest
776 pages commemorating a quarter-century of Canada's outstanding, astounding indie comics press, including essays by Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Lemony Snicket, and featuring seminal stories from Jillian Tamaki, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, and Art Spiegelman. Read the rest
Defender, to the death, of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga. Architect of Philip K. Dick’s induction into the Library of America. College drop-out. MacArthur Genius. Comic-book guy. Jonathan Lethem is a man of obscure obsessions and unabashed passions.
Jonathan Lethem and Lars Eidinger star in Lars and Jonathan: A Berlin Friendship , a short, paranoid, quirky film made for Transmediale's Snowden-leak-commemorating Magical Secrecy Tour. Read the rest
The major US writers' group, the Authors Guild, claims to represent all writers when it sues over library book-scanning and other fair uses; a new group, the Authors Alliance, has been launched by leading copyright expert Pam Samuelson to represent the authors who like fair use, users' rights, and who reject censorship and surveillance. I'm a proud founding member, along with Jonathan Lethem, Katie Hafner and Kevin Kelly. Read the rest
A group of writers from around the world, including Nobel laureates, have signed onto a petition calling on the world's governments to limit online surveillance. I was honored to be asked to be among the initial signatories, in good company with the likes of Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Martin Amis, Günter Grass, Pico Ayer, Will Self, Irvine Welsh, Jeanette Winterson, Lionel Shriver, Paul Auster, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Lethem, and many, many others. The petition is now open for your signature in support of a set of simple, important core principles: Read the rest
Rick Kleffel just posted his interview with Jonathan Lethem (MP3) about Lethem's new novel, Dissident Gardens, his latest New York City novel. It's about a Sunnyside Gardens family whose matriarch, Rose Zimmer, is being drummed out of the Communist Party. What follows is comic, sweet, and thoroughly grounded in New York. Based on Kleffel's review, I can't wait to read it. Read the rest
The Philip K. Dick Festival, scheduled for September 22-23 in San Francisco, is sure to be a heady, reality-bending time. Organizer and Total Dick-Head blogger David Gill informs us that he's lined up presentations by Jonathan Lethem, Erik Davis, Paul Sammon, and many other big thinkers on such subjects as self-induced amnesia, computer simulations, mysticism, dystopia, and, of course, drugs. 2012 Philip K. Dick Festival Read the rest
Jonathan Lethem's latest is a book in the 33 1/3 series, Talking Heads' Fear of Music, a tribute to Talking Heads brilliant, seminal album, one of the greatest records of all time. In Wired, Geeta Dayal interviews Lethem about his book and the approach he took, and leaves me drooling for the chance to read it myself:
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Lethem chose not to take a journalistic approach with Fear of Music; there are no interviews with the band members, Eno or anyone else involved in the album’s creation. “I didn’t want this to be a kind of post-mortem reconstruction,” Lethem said. “I wanted the entire record to spring from my encounter with it — the tangle of ideas that continued to stick from that experience.”
The core characters in Lethem’s book are the band’s four members. “What I was arguing for was the sanctity of the foursome,” Lethem said. “The collaborative unit of more or less equal parts.”
Fear of Music, Lethem said, turned out to be “really slippery” as a subject. The album seemed to raise more questions than it answered.
“Is it the band? Is it Eno? Is it David Byrne? Is it 1979? Is it punk?” Lethem said. “I’m still really interested in unearthing, excavating in that book the feeling of that band, and what they signified. Even the dress and the haircuts and the weird clarity of the song titles, and the arty minimalism of their album designs — all of this seemed to be saying something.”
Lethem’s passion for the group comes through forcefully in his writing.
Total Dick-Head's David Gill reminds us that 30 years ago today, science fiction author Philip K. Dick "disconnected." Public Radio International's "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" has posted a great selection of interviews about the man whose entire life and work questioned the nature of reality. Hear from Gill along with Umberto Rossi, Anne Dick, and Jonathan Lethem. To The Best of Our Knowledge: Philip K. Dick
In other PKD news, the 2012 Philip K. Dick Festival is scheduled for September 22-23 in San Francisco! Read the rest
Rick Kleffel and the Agony Column have a long podcast interview with Jonathan Lethem commemorating the publication of his new essay collection, The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc., a discussion about how art builds on other art and how writing is done:
An interview about 'The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.' with Jonathan Lethem is, for this book reviewer, something between therapy and a session with one of those gurus you see in cartoons sitting on a mountaintop, dispensing the wisdom of the ancients.
Informative, but a bit on the intimidating side, seeing as to how you're talking to a gentleman paid highly and handsomely, who is actually asked to review books by the world's premiere editors and publications. You can find them in 'The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.'
It helped then, that I've spoken with Lethem before, and that the thesis of his book, the sweet surprise center, is an argument that I tend to agree with and have been seen bandied about for the last few years now. It's the cornerstone of what makes the Internet so powerful.
12-26-11: A 2011 Interview With Jonathan Lethem
(Thanks, Rick!) Read the rest
In this interview with the literary journal AGNI, MacArthur-prize-winning author Jonathan Lethem discusses originality and the way that "influence" and copying from other writers are part of the creative process. Lethem's previous essay on this, The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism, is a masterwork (I'm also a big fan of his novels, e.g. this one and this one).
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I’ve always been a consciously influenced writer. I usually have some models in mind for anything I’m writing, whether it’s other novels, or some films, or sometimes even a comic book. In terms of prose style, I am almost always open to writing some degree of homage, or trying to adopt or import a part of another writer’s style into what I’m doing. Usually it’s more than one author, and/or it’s in combination with some radically different influence on the narrative strategy, or on the kind of motifs, characters, or situations that I’m writing about. I never think that this is going to simply seem like writer X, because I’m always colliding that influence with a number of other elements.
I’ve come to believe that there is something innate in my method, my sentences, and my approach to narrative and characters that’s inalterable, and that transforms these influences even when I’m not conscious of it. So I don’t ever think in terms of embarrassment or hesitation or reservations about being influenced or working with models. I pretty much assume that’s how it works for me.
I understand that a lot of other people are much more deflective or diffident or uncertain or unconscious about these processes, but I believe strongly that they’re what’s going on in making narratives for anyone.