Thursday, March 03, 2005

Run the Road really is as ridiculously great as everyone keeps saying. It's banger after banger after banger, with only a couple of slow bits (Roll Deep, Ears), and even those would sound pretty good if they were on Southern Smoke 29 or something. I won't say much else about it here since I have to come up with 800 words on it, but here's a preview: The beat to Kano's "P's and Q's" sounds like a southern college marching band playing the Knight Rider theme in some terrifying dystopian future.

Jonathan Lethem's Men and Cartoons is a shockingly boring book. Lethem is one of my favorite novelists because he builds most of his books (Motherless Brooklyn especially) from trashy fiction genres like hard-boiled detective stories and Twilight Zonian science fiction, keeping all the pleasures of these genres intact but also using them as a jumping-off point, using them to play around with language and ideas. I liked Fortress of Solitude, but not as much as some of his older books, since it seems like he decided to leave the genre fiction alone and dive into a Serious Novel. He made it work by keeping it close to the bone, letting all the autobiographical details hit hard. But most of the stories in Men and Cartoons are on some Paul Auster-biting shit, pointlessly weird metatextual show-offy whizjet stuff that seems to imply meaning than actually meaning anything. The one big exception is "Super Goat Man", which I already wrote about when it appeared in the New Yorker a while back. It's no coincidence that "Super Goat Man" is both the best story and the one where he goes the furthest back into genre fiction, the genre in this case being super-hero comic books. The science fiction story is pretty good too, but I forget the name of that one.