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Jonathan Lethem the Bookstore Clerk

Open book

In an interview with California magazine, the novelist and Brooklyn native Jonathan Lethem (The Fortress of Solitude, Men and Cartoons) talks about becoming a writer in Berkeley. I loved this little nugget about his time working in bookstores:

Just handling this ocean of different books—new and used, in and out of print, famous and forgotten—it was literature as this giant mosaic of texts and experiments and attitudes. I think it’s just very liberating to break out of a great man’s theory of history.

I guess I’ve always liked working from that sense of—what would you call it?—license that the margins permit. I always just visualize myself writing books that were meant one day to be dusty, forgotten volumes being encountered by intrepid browsers in a used bookstore. It was a much less freighted way to think about trying to enter the conversation than to imagine I had to write The Great Gatsby.

Source: California

Image by melanieburger, licensed under Creative Commons.