>Although it isn’t labeled a short story–The New Yorker doesn’t seem to do that–neither is this “fiction” by Jonathan Lethem labeled a novel excerpt, which it surely is. (The Contributor note for Lethem tells us that his novel Chronic City will be published in October.) I was enjoying the read, more or less, until I noticed that story-wise it wasn’t going anywhere; a check on that Contributor note confirmed my suspicion, and the lack of an ending left no doubt whatsoever. So, we’ve got another novel excerpt instead of a story, and as much as I liked Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn and another story of his I’ve seen in TNY, this one gets a non-response from me. The sentences seem fine. Good, even. The protagonist–if this main character serves that function in the novel, as I would guess–has a funky name (Perkus Tooth), but I don’t think I’m interested enough by this to pay for the book, or read it, when it comes out.
The fiction begins with Tooth, a “wall-eyed former rock critic,” who isn’t well (there’s been some kind of party) and is forced by a devastating snowstorm to abandon his home and find other shelter. Which he does, quite readily–in an apartment building for dogs. Thinking he no longer wishes human companionship, he becomes the roommate of a three-legged pit bull named Ava, who, loving him unconditionally, teaches him something about humanity.
Really? Whatever. I liked the dog.
May 25, 2009: “Ava’s Apartment” by Jonathan Lethem