Sunday, January 25, 2009

You don't love me yet...

I've just finished reading "You Don't Love Me Yet" by Jonathan Lethem for the fifth or sixth time. Even after all these reading, I'm not sure I can put my finger on just why I love it so much. But in the character of Lucinda Hoekke, Lethem has captured a woman who I can relate to, though I'm not really proud of that. Lucinda is somewhat aimless, impulsive and prone to intense and sometimes short-lived sexual obsessions. She's flawed, but compelling and fully formed, though Lethem never even gives a physical description more specific than what she's wearing.

Lucinda is the bass player for an unnamed band that has never gotten beyond the living room practice space of their drummer, Denise (the other female character who remains undescribed). Taking a job at her former lover's art gallery, Lucinda begins receiving complaint calls as part of the gallery owner's latest installation. Soon enough, her time is taken by one caller who talks of his own sexual obsessions, dropping carefully casual catch phrases as a habit. An early conversation is the genesis for the band's breakthrough song, "Monster Eyes," and several others, all based on the Complainers rambling. Soon enough Lucinda and the Complainer meet and fall into an all encompassing affair of roundabout conversations and fucking. And soon after that, the Complainer insinuates himself into the band, taking credit, rightly, for the the bulk of their new (and admittedly better) songs.

When confronted by Denise as to his motives in joining the band, the Complainer (Carl) replies:

"I want what we all want," said Carl. "To move certain parts of the interior of myself into the external world, to see if they can be embraced."

And perhaps it's that line that explains why I love this book so much. And why I love Jonathan Lethem. I was never able to articulate it that succinctly or beautifully, but that's it -- that line was a eureka moment when I read it. I had mental equivalent of pumping a fist into the air - "Yes! That's it!" - when I read it.
I'm well aware that I missed yesterday's asserveration. Let me just say that I got much further along on my artwork for my submission to Naughti Gras, and that is a very good thing. Particularly since the submission guideline is tonight at midnight. So that was a happy thing. Keep your fingers crossed for me. My first submission to a fine art event - I'm a little terrified. I won't show the work here until I find out whether I'm accepted or not.

1 comment:

Allison said...

I had been trying to read this book, but couldn't finish it. I didn't like any of the characters, aside from the kangaroo.
Maybe I'll try it again this summer, since you usually have good literary tastes.