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The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

The Fortress of Solitude (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Jonathan Lethem

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3,342551,626 (3.87)94
Title:The Fortress of Solitude
Authors:Jonathan Lethem
Info:Vintage (2004), Edition: Regular Print/Single Titl, Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:listsofbests to get
Tags:unowned, listsofbests, nytimes best books 96-08, av club's best books of the '00s, rory gilmore bookcase

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The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (2003)


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Lethem has created a mythology around people in Brooklyn that resembles a pantheon of the 1970s. Dylan Ebdus is a white kid in an all-black throng of peers that do stuff most kids do, but also flies (some magical realism thrown in there). Growing up as a white minority has never been any less traumatic. This book is a celebration of the best and the worst of ghetto living, college elitism and a raw Berkeley, California. It is also an exploration of the angst of dealing with a struggling artist and single-parent father who is gifted but also somewhat oblivious. The fiction serves as a model for how reality can challenge but also sustain us. ( )
  dbsovereign | Mar 26, 2017 |
Kind of a mess of a novel, but in really wonderful and interesting ways. Actually, this feels like two novels. The first is a coming-of-age novel about a white boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, where he becomes close friends with a black boy down the street. Both boys are motherless, and they fall into possession of a ring with supernatural powers, though the magical properties of the rings are secondary in the novel to the naturalistic descriptions of the neighborhood and the relationships among the various characters. This first half of the novel is narrated in the third person, shifting focalizers among the characters, though Dylan Ebdus is clearly the protagonist. The second half of of the book (after a brief interlude), is narrated in the first-person from Dylan's point of view and concerns his attempt to get redemption for abandoning his home and former friends when he turned 18 and left for college. He visits his old friend Mingus in prison and tries to give him back the ring, but everything goes wrong. Really fine eye for detail and for the crazy workings of race in the neighborhood and other settings. The ending didn't quite work for me. It felt like Lethem didn't know what to do, so he just ended mid-thought, but overall this was a really great read, with nods to all kinds of comic book and genre narratives, a huge range of contemporary pop music (and soul), and Ellison's Invisible Man. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Lethem gives us a fabulous evocation of 70s-era Brooklyn, complete with graffiti and the birth of punk and hip hop, then asks the question,"Now what would happen if a superhero came to the neighborhood?" ( )
1 vote Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Another motherless Letham. Another Brooklyn ramble, fully populated and lost.
Another beautiful effluence of words that flood a neighborhood and float you along. Dylan White and Mingus Not-So-White come of age amid the writer's verbiage and his knowledge black funky music. Any plot summary sounds like a growing-up-urban cliché, but Letham writes the two boys alive and hurt and sometimes beautiful(the last not too often).
The book' second half shifts into a shape-changer fiction that has a power ring, strange lands (Berkeley and LA), and super powers, too. Lord of the Projects. Lord of the Prison. Flying for Beginners. ( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
Good, but over-praised. ( )
  richardross79 | Jun 1, 2016 |
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For Mara Faye
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Like a match struck in a darkened room: Two white girls in flannel nightgowns and red vinyl roller skates with white laces, tracing tentative circles on a cracked blue slate sidewalk at seven o'clock on an evening in July.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375724885, Paperback)

The Fortress of Solitude is the story of Dylan Ebdus growing up white and motherless in downtown Brooklyn in the 1970s. It’s a neighborhood where the entertainments include muggings along with games of stoopball. In that world, Dylan has one friend, a black teenager, also motherless, named Mingus Rude. As Lethem follows the knitting and unraveling of their friendship, he creates an overwhelmingly rich and emotionally gripping canvas of race and class, superheros, gentrification, funk, hip-hop, graffiti tagging, loyalty, and memory. The Fortress of Solitude is the first great urban coming of age novel to appear in years.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:22 -0400)

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This book follows the adventures of two friends from a Brooklyn neighborhood, a black boy and a white boy, in late-twentieth-century America.

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