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Roxanne Reviews "The Feral Detective"


Roxanne Reviews "The Feral Detective" by Jonathan Lethem


Jonathan Lethem’s book The Feral Detective is a marvel in many ways. First, it’s a risk, a large departure from his more serious and soulful novel The Fortress of Solitude. Fun and frolicking as the title suggests, The Feral Detective is a romp in a YOLO (you only live once) park, the current frenzied milieu we find ourselves in due to the current government administration. Lethem succeeds in writing from the opposite sex’s first person point of view in Phoebe, the main character. She’s a good hearted person, albeit a bit of a tomboy, who takes it upon herself to find an emotionally traumatized friend’s college aged daughter. The trek leads her to a film noiresque P.I. named Charles Heist, picture Sam Elliott perhaps, or even Nick Nolte. For Phoebe, think Barbara Stanwyck, or more modern, Sandra Bullock. And what would a film noir be without the client falling in love (or at least in mighty strong lust) with the private eye? From this hot tryst set in the American southwest, a Game of Thrones gladiator situation ensues sure to satiate that demographic. Film noir is known for snappy dialogue and this literary equivalent achieves this as well as its complementary super short chapters. The perfect book for travel. I loved Lethem’s modern political allusions; for instance, his Phoebe’s analogies, an imagined disappointment of learning Chuck Schumer was gym buddies with Jeff Sessions. In welcome contrast I was challenged to research book, long abandoned in my lexicon, rediscovering definitions that had fallen out of my user’s vocabulary: chimerical, vestigial, atavistic. As a former English teacher, I love a book that leaves me smarter leaving than coming. There aren’t many soul searching moments here, except perhaps the idea that society’s gentrification erases certain sub cultures. The biggest favor this book produces is just plain fun, the type we need to cling to save our mental health.

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