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Lethem Controls Electric Guitar

lethem-youdontlove.jpgJonathan Lethem‘s new novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet, came in the mail yesterday, and I was immediately struck by the cover image of the author in his youth. I dashed off an email to Lethem to see if he could supply some additional context. “All the answers you seek are in the photo if you study it closely,” he wrote back. “The scene is a west coast of the mind, a California of possibility and open-ended fear… the sitter’s eyes declare that if you dare to take your eyes away he just might explode… that to be in one’s middle twenties is no laughing matter… that to be inches from but not to actually be playing an electric guitar describes a complex conjugation of ambition, laziness, pretense and longing… that the future writer of a book about a band has absolutely no grounds for making fun of anyone…” (Longtime readers might recall that Sarah sat in on Lethem’s audiobook session last fall, during which there was also no guitar playing.)

OK, well what about the back cover, which features a photo of a flyer for a complaint hotline that includes a working Los Angeles telephone number? “My contacts at the complaint line assure me that all complaints will be ‘handled,’” Lethem replied… “whatever that means.”

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