Bestselling author Jonathan Lethem delivers a hilarious novel about love, art, and what it's like to be young in Los Angeles. Lucinda Hoekke's daytime gig as a telephone operator at the Complaint Line-an art gallery's high-minded installation piece-is about as exciting as listening to dead air. Her real passion is playing bass in her forever struggling, forever unnamed band. But recently a frequent caller, the Complainer, as Lucinda dubs him, has captivated her with his philosophical musings. When Lucinda's band begins to incorporate the Complainer's catchy, existential phrases into their song lyrics, they are suddenly on the cusp of their big break. There is only one problem: the Complainer wants in.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Lethem (Fortress of Solitude; Motherless Brooklyn; etc.) strays from hometown Brooklyn to recount the near-fame experience of a Los Angeles alternative rock band. Its success depends on bass guitarist Lucinda Hoekke, an unwitting femme fatale whose irrational whims torture the artsy Gen-Xers in her orbit. When the novel opens, she's answering phones for a complaint line designed to also function as a "theatrical piece" and is charmed by the eloquent gripes of one serial caller, a professional phrase writer named Carl. (He's responsible for coining "All thinking is wishful," among others.) They embark on a sex-drenched bender that culminates with the band's debut performance--a breakout success. Lucinda is the band's "secret genius," having provided the ideas for the catchiest songs; only she cribbed them from Carl, whose cooperation must be purchased with a token position in the band. Zany disaster ensues in this entertaining but largely insubstantial romantic farce. Lethem tricks out the plot with his usual social wit (music moguls are "unyouthful men in youthful clothes"), but from a writer whose previous books have carved new notches on the literary wall, this measures up as stunted growth. (Mar. 13)
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1 . This book is strange
Posted April 02, 2009 by Elle , Los AngelesI've never read a book like this. There is a lot of weird packed into a pretty short novel. The title makes you think it's a love story, but it's a crazy adventure of self-discovery among a gang of misfits. It is definitely a novel for generation X as it's got so many crazy references to things.
April 07, 2008
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Excerpt from You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
They met at the museum to end it. There, wandering through high barren rooms full of conceptual art, alone on a Thursday afternoon, Lucinda Hoekke and Matthew Plangent felt certain they wouldn't be tempted to do more than talk. Too, driving into the canyon of vacated plazas of downtown Los Angeles felt suitably solemn and irrevocable. The plan was not to sever as friends, or as bandmates, only as lovers.
Lucinda saw him first. A tall, malnourished vegetarian, Matthew was obliviously handsome, lead-singer handsome. He was dressed as for his work at the zoo and for the band's practices, in black turtleneck, jeans, and speckless suede work boots, which Lucinda knew he kept in his locker when he entered the animals' habitats. Matthew had presumably been excused from his veterinary nursing duties for the afternoon, or possibly it was his day off. For the past four years Lucinda had been assembling espresso drinks and clearing dishes at the Coffee Chairs, but she'd quit her job the day before, part of the same program of change that included this final rupture with Matthew. Instead, to pay her rent Lucinda had agreed to work for her friend, Falmouth Strand, in his storefront gallery.
On her way into the museum Lucinda had paused at two heroic pillars of neon, mounted on either side of a doorway, and seen only versions of herself and Matthew: discrete, sealed, radiant. Now, sighting Matthew, she felt her senses quicken, her balance shifting to her toes. He squinted warily at a television monitor on a white pediment, some sort of video art. Perhaps it was the case that for him, as for her, everything in the museum had been reduced to an allegory of their dilemma.Exhausted by the old tug of his beauty, his scruffy intensity and lean limbs, Lucinda was ready to send Matthew and his allure out voyaging elsewhere.
She joined silently to his side, the tiny hairs of their arms bristling together electrically. The two wandered like zombies through the exhibition, hesitating for a long while at a pair of basketballs floating perfectly suspended at midpoint in a glass water tank.
"The thing is we've done this so much before we're too good at it."
Matthew's gaze remained fixed on the tank. "You mean there's nothing to say."
"Yes, but also we don't believe it's real because we've fallen back together so many times afterward. We need to make a difference between this time and all those others."
"This time we're serious, Lucinda."
"On the other hand, the advantage to so many practice breakups is we know we still like each other, so we don't have to worry that we're not going to be friends."
"The band will be okay."
"If we seem like we're barely speaking to each other Denise and Bedwin will be completely confused. We can't let the band worry about us. Bedwin's fragile enough as it is."
"Is something else wrong?"
"It's nothing. There's a sort of crisis with one of the zoo's kangaroos, that's all."
"You were thinking about a kangaroo just now?"
"I just kind of wish we were in someplace more private so I could hold you and maybe just kiss you a little bit." His dark woeful eyes flitted past her, as if hounded. "I feel like I can't even look at you."
"I feel the same way, but that's the point. We have to stop now, change our patterns."
"I should stop having breakfast at the Coffee Chairs."
"You can go to the Coffee Chairs all you like. I quit yesterday."
"Are you serious?"
"I'm going to work for Falmouth."
Matthew disliked Falmouth. Lucinda and Falmouth had been together, briefly, in college. Matthew had always behaved jealously around Falmouth, though he denied it.
"Work how? Doing what?"
"He offered me a job in a sort of theatrical piece he's putting together. A fake office that needs fake office workers to answer real telephone calls."
"Calls from who?"
"I don't know. A complaint line, he said."
"I don't get it."
"I don't either, yet. But Falmouth will make it clear. Speaking of which, he has a piece in here somewhere, he showed me once."
"Is that why we're here? Is this about Falmouth?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Are you trying to tell me you're going to be with Falmouth now?"
"I could never be with Falmouth again. You know me better than that. He isn't even going to be at the gallery most of the time, that's why he needs to hire me. Come on, this way."
She dragged him by the hand, through impoverished galleries, white rooms barely ornamented apart from seven tiny pyramids of wheat germ.
"Here, this is Falmouth's thing."
Falmouth's object had been plopped ingloriously in the middle of an atrium, seemingly exiled. A white crate or cube. Matthew circled it skeptically.