"I think [Fear of Music] describes a tone of an intimate, neurotic — but seductive — paranoid personality that I think I probably quite shamelessly hoped that some of my earliest fiction would sound like. I think I was really eager to make fiction that would strike people as mysterious and funny and slightly spooky that was much like the way that I felt about Fear of Music."
Lethem's latest novel, Chronic City, was a surreal story about an actor, a rock critic resembling Lester Bangs, and an astronaut trapped in space. For Lethem, it marked a return to Fear of Music-inspired spookiness. "I came around to it again. I think of it as a very silly book on one surface, and I know some people find it impossibly shallow. The characters' lives seem so dippy! But I think behind that is a giant well of depression and dread."
But however complicated Lethem's relationship with Fear of Music, at least he can still listen to it. "Now that I've written the book, I feel like my relationship with it has this wonderful quality of being resolved and very sweet," he said. "It's like I've earned the right to just enjoy it again."
JONATHAN LETHEM READS AT WATCH CITY BREWING CO., 256 MOODY ST, WALTHAM, ON JUNE 6 AT 7 PM, WITH MUSIC FROM WINTERPILLS | 781.647.4000 OR GO TO WATCHCITYBREW.COM
TALKING HEADS' FEAR OF MUSIC | BY JONATHAN LETHEM | CONTINUUM | 160 PAGES | $12.95
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