In a volume he describes as "a series of covert and not-so-covert autobiographical pieces," Jonathan Lethem explores the nature of cultural obsession—from western films and comic books, to the music of Pink Floyd and the New York City subway. Along the way, he shows how each of these "voyages out from himself" has led him to the source of his beginnings as a writer. The Disappointment Artist is a series of windows onto the collisions of art, landscape, and personal history that formed Lethem’s richly imaginative, searingly honest perspective on life. A touching, deeply perceptive portrait of a writer in the making.
BONUS MATERIAL: This edition includes an excerpt from Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens .
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|Title of History eBook: The Disappointment Artist|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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The Disappointment Artist
Defending The Searchers
(Scenes in the Life of an Obsession)
What's weird in retrospect is how I seem to have willed the circumstances into being, how much I seemed to know before I knew anything at all. There shouldn't have been anything at stake for me, seeing The Searchers that first time. Yet there was. Going to a film society screening was ordinarily a social act, but I made sure to go alone that night. I smoked a joint alone too, my usual preparation then for a Significant Moment. And I chose my heavy black-rimmed glasses, the ones I wore when I wanted to appear nerdishly remote and intense, as though to decorate my outer self with a confession of inner reality. The evening of that first viewing of The Searchers I readied myself like a man who suspects his first date might become an elopement.
I wasn't a man. I was nineteen, a freshman at Bennington, a famously expensive college in Vermont. I'd never been to private school, and the distance between my experience and the other students', most of whom had never set foot inside a public school like those I'd attended in Brooklyn, would be hard to overstate. On the surface I probably came off like an exuberant chameleon. I plied my new friends with stories of inner-city danger when I wanted to play the exotic, aped their precocious cynicism when I didn't. Beneath that surface I was weathering a brutally sudden confrontation with the reality of class. My bohemian-artisan upbringing—my parents were hippies—had masked the facts of my own exclusion from real privilege, more adeptly than is possible anymore. It was 1982.
Soon the weight of these confusions crushed my sense of belonging, and I dro...