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Motherless Brooklyn

by Jonathan Lethem

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,424971,908 (3.98)167
A walk on the wild side of Brooklyn's criminal underclass with a hero known as "The Human Freakshow," a would-be detective also answering to the name of Lionel Essrog. Essrog is a victim of Tourette's Syndrome; hapless and veering out of control, he fights himself and his disease.
  1. 80
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (jeanned, Vulco1)
    Vulco1: A mystery story following a non-neuotypical person trying to solve a crime they are personally invested in while trying to navigate tricky interpersonal relationships.
  2. 30
    The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (InvisiblerMan)
  3. 30
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (InvisiblerMan)
  4. 20
    Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem (Smiler69)
    Smiler69: A great collection of short stories by the same author.
  5. 20
    Chinaman's Chance by Ross Thomas (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: Murder & deceit in the underworld...no one has tourette's but it's a great read.
  6. 10
    Not Me by Michael Lavigne (ehines)
    ehines: Not me is a different kind of novel than Motherless Brooklyn, but with a very similar spirit. The subject matter is more serious, but the protagonist is a comedian, with an attitude quite similar, to my mind, to the narrator of Motherless Brooklyn.
  7. 10
    Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block (Darco)
  8. 00
    Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis (InvisiblerMan)
  9. 00
    The Madman's Tale by John Katzenbach (jeanned)
  10. 00
    Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson (Darco)
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English (94)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
An enjoyable take on the hardboiled mystery - familiar enough to feel cozy, but strange enough to feel new. The Tourette's characterizations triggered some of my own tics while reading. ( )
  poirotketchup | Mar 18, 2021 |
The thing this book does beautifully is to make you feel like you've inhabited a different sort of mind. It's sort of a detective story, but the real appeal is in how you experience the view from behind the eyes of a narrator whose internal (and external) mono/dialogue is so very different from your own. It's lyrical and lovely and playful and sometimes a little heartbreaking. Lethem here takes a familiar genre -- the detective story -- and enlivens it by tweaking the style and replacing (self-consciously) the verbal tics of that genre with the verbal tics of the unusual narrator. I enjoyed this one a lot. It's the third Lethem book I've read, and I figure he's three for three so far. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Really clever writing, no idea how accurate a depiction of tourettes sufferer this is but the protagonist is instantly sympathetic and intriguing which keeps you reading. That and the terrible jokes. ( )
  TeaTimeCoder | Dec 23, 2020 |
Some books are more about voice than plot. That is the case with Motherless Brooklyn. And for that reason, I feel fortunate to have listened to the audiobook version, which was phenomenally narrated by Geoffrey Cantor with an amazing variety of voices that made each character distinct--but most of all made the Tourette's Syndrome-inflicted narrator a unique, believable voice at the center of a complex web of loyalties and betrayals involving a small time Brooklyn hood, his brother, his wife, some doormen, an all-night Korean convenience store, a Zendo, a huge assassin, Japanese businessmen/monks--well, you get the idea. As in the other book I read by Lethem, he is never short of ideas or imagination. The noir-ish aspects are a bit too self-conscious, as if he doesn't want them to escape the notice of a reader not familiar with the genre. And the story goes on a bit too long, but thanks to the superb narration, it was a rewarding listen. ( )
  datrappert | Nov 18, 2020 |
Some books are more about voice than plot. That is the case with Motherless Brooklyn. And for that reason, I feel fortunate to have listened to the audiobook version, which was phenomenally narrated by Geoffrey Cantor with an amazing variety of voices that made each character distinct--but most of all made the Tourette's Syndrome-inflicted narrator a unique, believable voice at the center of a complex web of loyalties and betrayals involving a small time Brooklyn hood, his brother, his wife, some doormen, an all-night Korean convenience store, a Zendo, a huge assassin, Japanese businessmen/monks--well, you get the idea. As in the other book I read by Lethem, he is never short of ideas or imagination. The noir-ish aspects are a bit too self-conscious, as if he doesn't want them to escape the notice of a reader not familiar with the genre. And the story goes on a bit too long, but thanks to the superb narration, it was a rewarding listen. ( )
  datrappert | Nov 18, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Lethemprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buscemi, SteveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my Father
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Context is everything. Dress me up and see. I'm a carnival barker, an auctioneer, a downtown performance artist, a speaker in tongues, a senator drunk on fillbuster. I've got Tourette's. My mouth won't quit, though mostly I whisper or subvocalize like I'm reading aloud, my Adam's apple bobbing, jaw muscle beating like a miniature heart under my cheek, the noise suppressed, the words escaping silently, mere ghosts of themselves, husks empty of breath and tone.
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Ik ben een schreeuwende carnavalsvierder, een veilingmeester, een straatartiest, een mystiek brabbelaar, een senator die brooddronken is van zijn eigen lange redevoeringen.
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A walk on the wild side of Brooklyn's criminal underclass with a hero known as "The Human Freakshow," a would-be detective also answering to the name of Lionel Essrog. Essrog is a victim of Tourette's Syndrome; hapless and veering out of control, he fights himself and his disease.

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Motherless Brooklyn is a Jonathan Lethem novel published in 1999. It is a detective story set in Brooklyn. Lethem's protagonist has Tourette syndrome, a disorder marked by involuntary tics.
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