22318402Jonathan Lethem had me hooked on his writing ever since the day I picked up his fantastic novel Motherless Brooklyn.  It will always be one of my favorite books of all time that I recommend to people on a daily basis. So anytime there is a book by Lethem I’m always ready to preorder my copy at the bookstore.  Lethem’s latest is a collection of nine previously published short stories called Lucky Alan. The collection is a bit hit or miss but luckily most are hits. The collection starts off with the title story “Lucky Alan” about two friends who thought they knew each other until something happens that makes it seem like you wonder if you can really get to know someone.  One of the best stories in the collection is called “The King of Sentences” about two book lovers and wanna be novelists who stalk their favorite writer.  This story showcases Lethem’s talent at his best. He keeps it real but takes the reader outside his comfort zone.  The next threes stories are “Traveler Home”, “Procedure in Plain Air” and “Their Back Pages”, in which Lethem does language cartwheels and sometimes overdoes it. These stories are interesting to read but at the end you wonder if Lethem is just trying to show off or if he truly felt this was the best way to tell this particular story to the reader.

The next story is a bit more straightforward, about a man whose house is filled with porn and is obliged due to his job to review them.  This tale is followed by a “The Empty Room”, which is a story about a room in a house that must be emptied at all time. You can go in and do what you want but the family’s father insists that everything must be taken out after each use.  It’s a bit Twilight Zone, as is “The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear”, the penultimate story, which is a tale about a blogger whose world is something that becomes a sort of amusement park in his mind.  It’s a telling tale on blogs and what their use is.

The final story “Pending Vegan” is a story about Sea World and the intersection of loving animals and then eating them. Being a vegan myself I was wondering where he would go with this story. To me it’s the strongest story in the collection in that it truly dissects the emotions that we have towards animals and the earth around us how we put these in categories of things that we can tolerate and things we cannot. Are we being honest with our children and ourselves if we teach them one thing and do another?

So after reading this review you may ask yourself is this a book I should pick up?  The answer is yes because if you’ve never read a Lethem book this book will make you want to run to your nearest bookshop and pick up some of his other books and if you are a fan, it will inspire you to want to countdown the days until his next book. Either way you’re a Lucky Reader.