1: The Fortress OF Solitude – Jonathon Lethem

Sometimes life is too short to read a book you have lost interest in. Sometimes you complete it anyway because you have already invested too much time into it. I’ll do both, and feel a lot worse about the former. What is annoying though is when you get a book you think you’ll enjoy, and even do for a bot, which then drifts away from you.

The Fortress Of Solitude was one such book. I had heard good things about it, and I have generally liked Jonathon Lethem. Even the JL titles I have not really liked (Gun, WitH Occasional Music say) I have finished. His failings as a writer have usually hit me as a lack of respect for genre (or more properly genre audiences) and being willfully oblique. The Fortress Of Solitude promised none of that: it was a coming of age tale of a couple of Bronx kids obsessed with comics. And the first hundred pages were readable in an overlong way. Perhaps too much detail was being placed on certain childhood games, but I did get a good overview of the lead characters development.

And then I put the book down, and could not pick it up. Plot ennui set in. Nothing much seemed to happen, the lead seemed a permanently scared narrator whose own sense of self was putting me off. What’s more I could not see where the book was going. Would the leads just get older and do all the trivial school stuff which no matter how well observed I was not in the mood for. Or was the slow start in anticipation of a plot twist that would upset the status quo.

I decided I didn’t care and read an Anne Tyler book I found in the cottage we were staying in.