Jonathan Lethem

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On the BobPhone from the USA: it’s award-winning writer Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, with a supremely quotable episode. On his “Big Kahuna” interview of Bob for Rolling Stone: “he was direct and generous; we had a good time”. An advocate for Dylan’s latter-day stuff, he believes that “humour is underrated as a feature of the operation”.

Among Jonathan’s many provocative thoughts: “The power of (Dylan’s) negativity is a form of creative dynamism” and “how many people could have turned down the coronations he’s been offered”? He praises the “fiasco methodology” of Under The Red Sky, has mixed feelings about Together Through Life (“if you underrate a thing it can kick your ass”) and condemns the Sinatra years as “a fatally tasteful hiding place”. Did Dylan stay in Mississippi a day too long? Join us and find out.

Jonathan Lethem is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer. His first novel Gun, with Occasional Music, which mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel that achieved mainstream success: the movie adaptation by Edward Norton has just been released. In 2003, he published The Fortress of Solitude, which became a New York Times bestseller. His most recent novel is The Feral Detective. A Brooklyn native, Jonathan lives and teaches in California.

His 2006 Rolling Stone piece on James Brown

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Recorded 19th November 2019

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