Motherless Brooklyn

Version: Unabridged
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Narrator: Frank Muller
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Literature
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published In: November 2001
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 9 hours
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From Publishers Weekly
Hard-boiled crime fiction has never seen the likes of Lionel Essrog, the barking, grunting, spasmodically twitching hero of Lethem's gonzo detective novel that unfolds amidst the detritus of contemporary Brooklyn. As he did in his convention-smashing last novel, Girl in Landscape, Lethem uses a blueprint from genre fiction as a springboard for something entirely different, a story of betrayal and lost innocence that in both novels centers on an orphan struggling to make sense of an alien world. Raised in a boys home that straddles an off-ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge, Lionel is a misfit among misfits: an intellectually sensitive loner with a bad case of Tourette's syndrome, bristling with odd habits and compulsions, his mind continuously revolting against him in lurid outbursts of strange verbiage. When the novel opens, Lionel has long since been rescued from the orphanage by a small-time wiseguy, Frank Minna, who hired Lionel and three other maladjusted boys to do odd jobs and to staff a dubious limo service/detective agency on a Brooklyn main drag, creating a ragtag surrogate family for the four outcasts, each fiercely loyal to Minna. When Minna is abducted during a stakeout in uptown Manhattan and turns up stabbed to death in a dumpster, Lionel resolves to find his killer. It's a quest that leads him from a meditation center in Manhattan to a dusty Brooklyn townhouse owned by a couple of aging mobsters who just might be gay, to a zen retreat and sea urchin harvesting operation in Maine run by a nefarious Japanese corporation, and into the clutches of a Polish giant with a fondness for kumquats. In the process, Lionel finds that his compulsions actually make him a better detective, as he obsessively teases out plots within plots and clues within clues. Lethem's title suggests a dense urban panorama, but this novel is more cartoonish and less startlingly original than his last. Lethem's sixth sense for the secret enchantments of language and the psyche nevertheless make this heady adventure well worth the ride. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Reviews (1)


Written by Trax on September 24th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The story is ok. I had some difficulty believing the premise that the main character, a high school drop out from an orphanage working for a small time con man, could act, speak and think so sophisticatedly.

Author Details

Author Details

Lethem, Jonathan

Jonathan Lethem is the author of the novels "Gun, with Occasional Music, Amnesia Moon, As She Climbed Across the Table, " and "Girl in Landscape." He lives in Brooklyn, NY.