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Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
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Motherless Brooklyn (edition 2000)

by Jonathan Lethem (Author)

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4,9571112,271 (3.96)188
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM WARNER BROS. STARRING BRUCE WILLIS, EDWARD NORTON, AND WILLEM DAFOE

From America's most inventive novelist, Jonathan Lethem, comes this compelling and compulsive riff on the classic detective novel.

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn's very own Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable. When Frank is fatally stabbed, Lionel's world is suddenly turned upside-down, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case, while trying to keep the words straight in his head. A compulsively involving a and totally captivating homage to the classic detective tale.

.… (more)
Member:ipsoivan
Title:Motherless Brooklyn
Authors:Jonathan Lethem (Author)
Info:Vintage (2000), 311 pages
Collections:To read or reread, Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

  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
    Chinaman's Chance by Ross Thomas (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: Murder & deceit in the underworld...no one has tourette's but it's a great read.
  5. 20
    Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem (Smiler69)
    Smiler69: A great collection of short stories by the same author.
  6. 10
    Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block (Darco)
  7. 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.
  8. 00
    Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson (Darco)
  9. 00
    The Madman's Tale by John Katzenbach (jeanned)
  10. 00
    Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis (InvisiblerMan)
  11. 00
    The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay (sturlington)
  12. 01
    The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Creative spins on the genre of detective fiction with intricate webs of corrupt people and organizations with obscure motivations
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» See also 188 mentions

English (106)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (109)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
A very inventive and touching story with unforgettable characters. I really enjoyed reading it, although I wished I'd had a little more experience with traditional hard boiled detective stories, as I could pick up hints that there were interesting plays on the genre going on that probably work even better if you've read a bit more Raymond Chandler. Still, a great read all the way through. ( )
  rknickme | Mar 31, 2024 |
Sort of a cross between Sam spade , detective searching for partners killer, and The Godfather, family allegiances mired in crime. The mysterious femme fatale, the evil corporation , the worry about who can be trusted, all the usual noir type scenarios, with the interesting addition of the protagonist having to deal with his Tourettic impulses on top of everything else. ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
A mystery with no mothers. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
Noir with a case of Tourette’s is the shape of Motherless Brooklyn in this novel that blends elements of detective fiction with deep character exploration and social commentary. It’s clever and compelling. The Tourette’s isn’t a gimmick, rather the central aspect of Lionel’s character and the lens in which he views the world. Lethem portrays Lionel’s struggles, highlighting his intelligence, determination and wit while exploring themes of identity, belonging and the search for meaning in a chaotic world. Motherless Brooklyn will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page. ( )
  Andrew.Lafleche | Feb 5, 2024 |
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem was first published in 1999. The story is told by Lionel Essrog who considers himself a private investigator. Lionel has Tourette’s Syndrome, a disorder marked by tics, both physical and vocal. He is one of a group of young men who grew up in a local orphanage and as boys, the four of them were taken under the wing of Frank Minna, a small time hood who sometimes calls his business a detective agency and sometimes a transportation company. Lionel and the other boys call themselves the Minna Men, and look up to Frank as a strong father figure. Lionel is devastated when Frank is murdered and vows to hunt down the killer.

While this is not a classic detective story, it is still a story about crime, pursuit and retribution told by a unique voice. Lionel’s Tourette’s shapes the story with his compulsive behavior and strange wording that he cannot control. He taps, grabs, and pats people and things, he needs to ensure that life revolves around certain numbers and his brain seizes on words and spits out vulgar variations.

I found this to be a fantastic yet bittersweet story. Although compulsive and twitchy, Lionel is a both a likeable and sympathetic character. The author has created a darkly poetic, well crafted yet absurd story whose word play enhances the lonely life the book is illuminating. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jul 21, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Lethemprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buscemi, SteveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cantor, GeoffreyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, Amy C.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mulligan, BrianDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For my Father
First words
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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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM WARNER BROS. STARRING BRUCE WILLIS, EDWARD NORTON, AND WILLEM DAFOE

From America's most inventive novelist, Jonathan Lethem, comes this compelling and compulsive riff on the classic detective novel.

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn's very own Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable. When Frank is fatally stabbed, Lionel's world is suddenly turned upside-down, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case, while trying to keep the words straight in his head. A compulsively involving a and totally captivating homage to the classic detective tale.

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Book description
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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