March 07, 2000
Started reading Motherless Brooklyn by

Started reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem today, got hooked from the first two paragraphs:

Context is everything. Dress me up and see. I'm a carnival barker, an
auctioneer, a downtown performance artist, a speaker in tonges, a
senator drunk on filibuster. _I've got Tourette's._ My mouth won't
quit, though mostly I whisper or subvocalize like I'm reading aloud,
my Adam's apple bobbing, jaw muscle beating like a miniature heart
under my cheek, the noise surpressed, the words escaping siliently,
mere ghosts of themselves, husks empty of breath and tone. (If I were
a Dick Tracy villain, I'd have to be Mumbles.) In this diminished form
the words rush out of the cornucopia of my brain to course over the
surface of the world, tickling reality like fingers on piano keys.
Caressing, nudging. They're an invisible army on a peacekeeping
mission, a peaceable horde. They mean no harm. They placate,
interpret, massage. Everywhere they're smoothing down imperfections,
putting hairs in place, putting ducks in a row, replacing divots.
Counting and polishing the silver. Patting old ladies gently on the
behind, eliciting a giggle. Only--here's the rub--when they find too
much perfection, when the surface is already buffed smooth, the ducks
already orderly, the old ladies complacent, then my little army
rebels, breaks into the stores. Reality needs a prick here and there,
the carpet needs a flaw. My words begin plucking at threads nervously,
seeking purchase, a weak point, a vulnerable ear. That's when it
comes, the urge to shout in church, the nursery, the crowded movie
house. It's an itch at first. Inconsequential. But the itch is soon a
torrent behind a straining dam. Noah's flood. That itch is my whole
life. Here it comes now. Cover your ears. Build an ark.

"Eat me!" I scream.

Posted by Bill Stilwell at March 07, 2000 12:00 AM
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