Matthew and Lucinda meet at the museum to end their affair...the fact that they almost immediately end up having s3x inside one of the exhibits suggests that as endings go, this isn't likely to be permanent. But they have to split. And they have to remain friends. Anything else would not be good for `the band'.
If you've any friends involved in the local music scene you'll recognise this scenario. OK maybe not the sex in the gallery bit... but definitely the convoluted relationships that go on between people in `the band'. Music is a passionate business, passions run high... but then the passion for the music and for the musicians gets confused and love affairs... well, from what I've seen from the outside, they also get confused. Set in LA, obviously an on-off love affair and a band struggling to make it isn't really going to be enough to hang a story on... so...
Lucinda - in trying to make the split permanent this time quits her job at the coffee shop and goes to work for conceptual artist Falmouth as a "Complaint Line" operator - through which artistic endeavour she meets the new knight-on-charger ("the Complainer") who with the help of Falmouth and a local "Society" party-thrower is about to turn all their lives upside down.
Matthew - bereft without his woman turns to the one other female who really needs him: Shelf - a slightly dysfunctional kangaroo, who may or not fare better for having been kidnapped by Matt and taking up residence in his bathtub.
The pair make the painfully shy and lonely Bedwin - dissecting half-visible signs on the walls of ancient movie sets, while trying to write lyrics - and Denise the drummer - totally sane, practical and normal even if she does work in a porn shop - appear to be boringly average.
What follows is an averagely amusing rendition of the Tales From the City/ Desperate Housewives/ S3x & the City variety. Relationships develop and fall apart. Unlikely partnerships emerge. Friendships soldier on. The band gets its big break... and then a bigger one...(or does it?). Life goes on.
It helps if you like your s3xual encounters to be regular and unerotic. Otherwise they get in the way of a reasonably witty tale of pretension and betrayal. The struggling band reaching for authenticity (but failing to even come up with a name) vying against the manipulators of "style" and "the business". I'm not sure the kangaroo adds a great deal to the plot - but will at least furnish the potential for some seriously funny scripting if the mini-series adaptation materialises.
Two-twenty pages of wide-spaced type makes this a light, easy read. Perfect for a longish train journey, where you can read it at a sitting, smile now & again... and not feel the need to actually take it away with you afterwards. It's quirky and entertaining but any claims the blurb-writers have to compare it with the delights of Austen's Emma are stretching credibility just a tad.
In "You Don't Love Me Yet: A Novel", Jonathan Lethem finally tackles one of his other personal passions, rock music, endeavoring to write a terse, funny novel about human relationships and the craft of making good rock music. He's clearly written a funny novel that may rank alongside his early "As She Climbed Across the Table" for its ample doses of hilarity. However, both stylistically, and artistically, it is a great step backward from his near literary classics "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Fortress of Solitude". Why? His latest novel is replete with banal characters, of which the sole exception is Lucinda Hoekke, one of the primary protagonists. There's nothing really amusing here, except the casual, intense love affairs which she carries on with other members of her alternative rock and roll band, and some amusing episodes about an abducted Los Angeles Zoo kangaroo. Regrettably, Lethem's latest literary achievement greatly pales in comparison with William Gibson's "Spook Country" and Rick Moody's "The Omega Force" in both its depiction of contemporary American society and culture and its less than intriguing cast of characters. Long-time fans of Lethem's work may find this a worthwhile addition to his oeuvre, but many, I suspect, will ignore it, regarding it as the least significant work of fiction that he's created.
`They met at the museum to end it. There, wandering through high barren rooms full of conceptual art alone on a Thursday afternoon, Lucinda Hoekke and Mathew Plangent felt certain they wouldn't be tempted to do more than talk.'
...except that they are tempted and end up having sex in one of the exhibits. Lethem is good on on-again off-again relationships, the power of sex, how incestuous band life can become and the sinking feeling of approaching thirty and still living like a student.
The novel revolves around phone conversations between Lucinda and `the complainer' and how they become lyrics for the band and the start of success for them. No, it's not in the same class as Motherless Brooklyn or Fortress of Solitude but it is funny and sharp in the play with language.
I've a real soft spot for books about fictional bands — I play the drums in a band called ok (Toby Litt), Espedair Street (Iain Banks), Goodnight Steve McQueen (Louise Wener) — and bought this book to further plough that literary furrow.
I'll give the author a chance to claim satire but for me the characters and situations were overly contrived and any ironic commentary on the hip arts scene from which this band emerged failed to land.
Sad to say I never finished the book. I gave it a good go, but eventually it was just one bit of kookiness too far
The travails of a band just starting out and the love life of the bass player promised something rather different from the normal run of fiction. And it started well, with the lead singer's abduction of a kangaroo from a zoo being an early highlight and the meeting between Lucinda the bass player and 'the complainer' who threatens to overturn her life with happiness and drive the band to new heights…But then somehow I found that I seemed to lose interest as I moved into the second half of the text, and instead of seeming quirky it just seemed flat...
I have enjoyed previous books by Jonathan Lethem. Sadly, this book is not a success.
The characters possess no credibility and appear not even to believe in themselves. They do not engage in dialogue, other than to demonstrate how kooky or perceptive they are, speaking always in cod-elegant aphorisms.
The story is weak to the point of non-existence.
I was saddened by this performance because Jonathan Lethem has already written some excellent novels, but for now, he has lost direction.
After "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Fortress of Solitude" I was expecting good things from Jonathan Lethem, but this is a massive disappointment. Slight, poorly written and unconvincing, this isn't worth the couple of hours it took to read. I suggest next time Mr Letham concentrates on the quality of his work, not how many opportunities he has to write sex scenes involving a younger girl and a fat, old "writer"