You Don’t Love Me Yet (4 stars)

Jonathan Lethem

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You Don’t Love Me Yet (Faber)

POSTMODERN ROMANCE

Jonathan Lethem’s return to fictional stories of West Coast hipsters after the semi-autobiographical success of 2003’s gritty East Coast-set The Fortress of Solitude is an exercise in style over substance. Politics, postmodern malaise and problems of the real world are set aside for a Great Gatsby-esqe frolic through the problems of being young and beautiful creative types where the only tragedy comes from . . . nope, there isn’t any.

Songs are written and gigs are played around the lives of bass player Lucinda, her bandmates (ie sexual fodder), installation art and kangaroos, but the plot is incidental to the experience of the novel. Like all the best pop songs, it’s sweet, seductive and fleeting, yet always underpinned with Lethem’s expert musical knowledge, as he spins a slight story of rocky relationships and rock star ambition into a whole of such coherent evocativeness that lesser writers (and that’s the vast majority) should give up.

(Suzanne Black)

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