I finally started reading Dissident Gardens this weekend and so I have been catching up on all things Jonathan Lethem. First, there’s Carl Wilson’s recent lengthy interview for the Random House Canada blog Hazlitt:
“I’m writing about how the past isn’t the past—it’s the Faulkner principle, that it isn’t dead, it’s not even past, it’s with us. I think one of my great experiences coming of age and investigating the culture that I took for granted was realizing, okay, so I grew up kind of in a hippie house and I grew up on the Sixties and that cultural awareness, that interest led me very directly back to the late 1950s, all the stuff that in the typical account erupts into the Sixties, right? “Oh, everything was so repressed, and then the beatniks fight against this.” But you have these little glimmers, you have the folk music and you have Rod Serling, you have a Cold War culture that was very tantalizing to me. The stuff that was the precursor to the Sixties.
Well, once you make that insight that the Sixties is really about the Fifties, the next step that’s sort of inevitable is to realize how much everything is still a reaction to the enormous trauma of World War Two, and how we’re living still in the footprint of this midcentury nightmare.”
And there is Mike Doherty’s interview with Lethem for the National Post:
“I’m tough and affectionate towards everything.” This includes his own book, which he admits is so densely packed with ideas and images that “it’s consternating; it’s aggravating. There are plenty of people who want to throw it against the wall.” But in writing it, he says, “I was in the place where a writer most wants to be, right at the very edge of my talent.
Lethem also talked discussed his new book with Leonard Lopate on WNYC:
(Less than 100 pages in, my love/hate relationship with Lethem continues…)