Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community Book Review: Chronic City

Chronic City Love Letter

Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City woke me up in the middle of the night, right out of a dead sleep. I realized something about the stranded-in-orbit astronaut, about the environmental sculptor, about the ghostwriter, about Malcolm Gladwell's quality-of-life police, about the acupuncturist, about the war-free edition of the New York Times. (Who would choose the other edition?) I lay there in the dark, as paranoid/inspired as Perkus Tooth, the ex-broadsider around whom the story revolves.

And now I am in love with Chronic City. (It almost spells synchronicity!) It's the kind of love where I cannot stop mentioning it even/especially to people who haven't read it. It's the kind of love that shifts your perceptions forever. Try reading this book and then driving into New York City past Liberty Park; it's like liberating a collective repressed memory, a catharsis, an admission.

It's fitting to be in love with Chronic City, because it is a love letter to writing and the beautiful/terrible role that writers play in the necessary lies and half-truths that keep any culture, but especially this one, intact.

-Reviewed by Jane Cassady

Jane Cassady is the booking maven for the Philadelphia Poetry Slam. She has appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Comstock Review, Valley of the Contemporary Poets, and others. She works at Emlen Elementary Afterschool Program in Northwest Philadelphia, spending lots of time with craft supplies and optimistic little faces.

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