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This Shape We're In (2001)

by Jonathan Lethem

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305467,839 (3.21)3
Lethem, author of the bestselling Motherless Brooklyn , returns in concentrated form - packing twice the adventure into one-eighth the pages. This book could be some kind of allegory book, but it might not be an allegory book at all. It involves people and drinking and people looking for a giant eye. It is among the best things Mr. Lethem has written.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
I love Jonathan Lethem, and I have an unusually high tolerance for quirkiness, but I really wasn't invested in this...story? fable?...until the very end. The narrator is engaging enough, and there are nice absurd flourishes, but the ending is where it's at, and then it's over so quickly that it almost hurts. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who isn't already a fan of Lethem, and even then I think I'd only recommend it to fans of his earlier, more "genre-y" works...and even THEN I'm still not entirely sure because I'm a big fan of the genre-y stuff and I'm obviously rather conflicted about this one.

( )
  melaniemaksin | Oct 14, 2013 |
This is a weird one-off story published by McSweeney’s of a dream-like journey through a bizarre world known only as the shape.

What is the shape? An underground structure for surviving some sort of apocalyptic event? An interstellar spacecraft about to land on a distant world? Neither reader nor narrator discovers the truth until we reach the end of the journey. At about 50 pages, this is a short read that is about as mind-bending as we’ve come to expect from Lethem. ( )
  sturlington | Aug 4, 2011 |
Previously I've read from Jonathan Lethem his debut novel Gun, with Occasional Music. The book charmed me with its mix of hardboiled detective story and weird future. This Shape We're In, a novella, isn't less strange. It's a story about some people, living in a "shape" - something large and four-legged. Mr. F is a garbage hider from the bowels, when a cocktail party turns bad. Apparently his son is living in the eye of the shape as a beggar. Of course Mrs. F sends our protagonist to get the boy back.

Mr. F, a curious character, goes after the boy with Balkan, a friend of his son who found him in the eye. They travel through the shape drinking a lot. Mr. F keeps the witty banter running non-stop, too. It's fun little adventure, with an excellent twist in the end. The story is strange, almost surreal, and Lethem doesn't spend any time at all explaining what's going on - everything is fed to reader straight-faced. The ending gives a satisfying explanation, though.

This was a fun little book, definitely worth reading for some strange entertainment.

(Review of This Shape We're In at Mikko reads) ( )
  msaari | Jul 7, 2008 |
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It began when Balkan came into our burrow during cocktail hour and told us he had been in the eye.
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Lethem, author of the bestselling Motherless Brooklyn , returns in concentrated form - packing twice the adventure into one-eighth the pages. This book could be some kind of allegory book, but it might not be an allegory book at all. It involves people and drinking and people looking for a giant eye. It is among the best things Mr. Lethem has written.

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