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The Arrest: Jonathan Lethem di Jonathan…
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The Arrest: Jonathan Lethem (originale 2020; edizione 2020)

di Jonathan Lethem (Autore)

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Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn't hurt. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor. Todbaum has spent the Arrest smashing his way across a fragmented and phantasmagorical United States, trailing enmities all the way. Plopping back into the siblings' life with his usual odious panache, his motives are entirely unclear.… (altro)
Utente:Lauren-at-LT
Titolo:The Arrest: Jonathan Lethem
Autori:Jonathan Lethem (Autore)
Info:Atlantic Books (2020), Edition: Main
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The Arrest di Jonathan Lethem (2020)

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The Arrest, Jonathan Lethem, 2020

WITHOUT WARNING EXCEPT EVERY WARNING possible it had come: the Arrest. The collapse and partition and relocalization of everything, the familiar world, the world Journeyman had known his whole life.

I’ve been a fan of Jonathan Lethem since reading an ARC of “Gun With Occasional Music” and I haven’t read everything of his, I’ve managed enough to know my default position is “I’ll probably like it”. That holds true with The Arrest.

This is not “Motherless Brooklyn” or “Fortress of Solitude”. It doesn’t take a whole lot of patience to follow or to ‘get’. Closer to his debut or “She Crawled Across the Table” in that it feels complete and a little sad but wraps up to a satisfying conclusion.

We join the first person, limited knowledge narrator performing the duties of his post-apocalyptic existence. We’re not given much in the way of explanation for why society has changed so drastically. Perhaps because no one seems to really know. Least of all an unimportant, co-dependent L.A. script doctor trapped on the opposite side of the country.

"Eco-terror? Terror-terror? Species revenge? The Revolution? Had Journeyman’s world jumped the shark? The stars didn’t go out, one by one. The U.S. wasn’t replaced with a next thing. It was replaced by wherever one happened to be. The place one happened to reside at the moment of the Arrest, which after a fitful start had come overnight. Did they even call it the Arrest elsewhere?"

The scope is limited in the book and in the lives of the villagers because they are cordoned off from anything beyond their own Maine peninsula. Part of this isolation is the lack of tech beyond bicycles. Part seems to be the ‘protectors’ who take a tithe and enforce a ban on travel.

The conflict comes with the arrival of an old friend, or frenemy, of the self titled ‘Journeyman’. An appellation that no one seems to use but him. The McGuffin details, I’ll leave to you to discover but if you see the cover, it may become apparent.

I found him fascinating, as I’m supposed to I assume. -“Todbaum still held it, Journeyman had to admit. The conch shell, the horn of story.” - I couldn’t shake the feeling that this character was an insert of Brett Easton Ellis by way of Clay from “Imperial Bedrooms: specifically. Not something I ever recall from Lethem’s other works. Fair enough though, since Brett does it often enough himself.

Questions both practical and existential abound throughout the rest of the story and I’ll say Journeyman’s sad-sack existence is just this side of bearable. Other characters, including his organic farmer sister provide enough variety to keep interest in the story.

The conclusion is satisfying but does not really answer the questions we’ve been asking along with Journeyman. That’s okay by me because when do any of us get all the answers really?
If you like Lethem, grab this book. If you’ve never read him, try this but don’t stop there. Explore his longer works.
( )
  joe.basile.5 | Jun 27, 2024 |
I was somewhat disappointed with this post apocalyptic book on a super at and some writers and farmers…while there were spots here and there of Lethems love of wordplay…. The story just felt lacking,in so,e way…perhaps it was intended to make you feel like the townspeople of the story…trapped…longing for a glimpse of the outside world, the future,,, something…but …if so,,,,it worked a little too well…
I truly e joyed motherless Brooklyn, so perhaps my hopes were too high for this one. ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
I should've read this in 2020. It would've suited the mood of that plague-stopped world perfectly.

Since I didn't, I read the book without any frisson whatsoever. As always with Lethem's writing, the sentences pass with their unshowy but tremendously high level of craftsmanship causing them to slide directly into your brain. This, despite every character being pretty much...average. They don't stand out; they aren't meant to. This is a cozy catastrophe, not a Hero's Journey. I don't know if that was Author Lethem's intent but it's what we got.

The most vivid presence, the one truly blaringly alive character, isn't the blah "Journeyman"...an ycleture entirely self-generated as no one addresses or refers to the main character by that name...but Todbaum (literally "death tree") the thinly-veiled satirical caricature of 45. Plowing through the landscape, crushing all remaining shelter and destroying the livelihoods of all unlucky enough to be in his way, his nuclear-powered engine of destruction was made before the catastrophe of The Arrest so is the only surviving example of technology that Lethem posits destroyed us. Now, in the post-Arrest world, people are clueless and helpless. Then here comes Todbaum to destroy them anew with his sociopathic indifference and hoarded tech.

Pretty on-the-nose as a caricature of 45, but equally applicable to the billionaire class and their survival bunkers as a whole.

What would've worked better for me, personally, in 2020 was the laying-bare of the then-president's sociopathy before January 6th, 2021, rendered fiction about his toxicity irrelevant to the point of becoming distasteful. I was mildly amused, and always entertained, by the story. I was never inside it, or moved to want more of it. I read the book and appreciated the author's skill. I didn't invest in anyone inside the story but watched passively as events happened to and around them.

In a way I suppose this is as close as I can get to the experience of people who consume stories by staring at them on TV. I accepted what I was shown. I never once thought about whys, or hows, or what-ifs. What's here is all there is. This is not my preference, to be honest; it leaves me outside and while I expect that was the point, I didn't enjoy it much.

For me, this was a case of wishy meets washy in a beige future world that's too much and not enough like the present for it to work as allegory, satire, or parable. I'd be angry and upset with it, except that it's too well-made, too craftsmanlike, to truly disappoint that much. While it delivers what it promises it will, it doesn't delight the way Author Lethem most assuredly can. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 30, 2023 |
DNF. Just not for me. ( )
  Karenbenedetto | Jun 14, 2023 |
While it's not generally a great idea to compare an author's books to one another, I had high hopes having read his others. I found the story awkward, disjointed and unwieldy, the characters as well. Given the continual reference to the Arrest with little detail of its meaning, it leaves the reader guessing. I suspect it's meant to be humorous, but for me, it was anything but. Regardless, it's a Hollywood tale of friends that pontificate as they travel in a strange super car. Not much more to it. ( )
  Jonathan5 | Feb 20, 2023 |
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Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn't hurt. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor. Todbaum has spent the Arrest smashing his way across a fragmented and phantasmagorical United States, trailing enmities all the way. Plopping back into the siblings' life with his usual odious panache, his motives are entirely unclear.

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