Jonathan Lethem the Bookstore Clerk

article image

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.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.