Jonathan Lethem invented the hipster comic-book-loving nerdy smart guy in 1996, long before we had a president wielding a light saber on the White House lawn. The prizewinning author of Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude and a bevy of short fiction and essays that stick like cling wrap will be at Left Bank Books (399 Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss his new novel Chronic City. Lethem pays homage to (but doesn't imitate) Philip K. Dick, he of the telepathically communicating satellites and men out of time, and there's also an air of post-contemporary Dickens to his work, if only for the granite character names: Lionel Essrog, Mingus Rude and now Chronic City's Chase Insteadman. A former child star who wanders through a mad and gleefully complicated Manhattan, Insteadman pines for his girlfriend, who is currently trapped on the International Space Station. Admission to this evening's reading is free.
Tue., Nov. 10, 2009